In a whirlwind of cleaning today I was in and out of every room of our house. Rarely did I pause for more than the few seconds. I needed to put something back in its place, lift an item for dusting or cleaning or retrieve something that didn’t belong in that room, then I was out again. Until it was time to pull the laundry basket from inside of our closet and I caught sight of my rollerblades. Suddenly I was transported directly back to the last time I had used them and felt my cheeks flush instantly – the memory wasn’t very pretty at all.
A few months ago, when my husband was at work and our daughters were both in school, I decided that I would get my oil changed. Yawn. It could have been so simple. I could have driven to the place, pulled out a book and read a chapter or two while I waited and then drove off with my car. Did I do this reasonable task? No. No, I did not. Because what would be better than simply getting something knocked off my to-do list? Getting some exercise in the meantime! Perhaps I could take a speed walk or a nice jog? Oh, no.
You see, even though I own a pair of rollerblades, I don’t exactly know how to use a pair of rollerblades. More specifically, I don’t know how to STOP while using a pair of rollerblades. This did not deter me. I drove to my oil change appointment with my rollerblades in the trunk, filled out the necessary paperwork and I strapped in for what I figured would be a quick and largely uneventful two mile trip home. This would be the second of many poor decisions I would make (though not the worst) over the next thirty minutes of my life.
Getting out of the parking lot was awkward, but attainable. I didn’t seem to glide quite as I pictured I would. Equally troubling was the burning sensation in the jiggly bits to the sides of my quads where I imagine a thigh gap might be if I rollerbladed regularly. It wasn’t until I skated up the inclined sidewalk that I started sweating inwardly at the recollection that I hadn’t yet mastered the art of braking. I kept my knees apart slowing the momentum and making large wavy patterns with my legs (which I am sure looked very interesting if any onlookers had noticed). Then I viewed an intersection (another oversight on my part) and it all got very real.
Knowing that I couldn’t stop, while rolling downhill quick enough to blow my hair back, and not wanting to die by being hit by a car (while recklessly rollerblading) I had to think fast. I opened my arms wide and slammed into the concrete pole stationed on the side of the sidewalk, strangely embracing it as it ultimately prevented me from careening into traffic. There were about three intersections to go and I promise you I met each of them the same exact way.
Starting to bruise, sweating profusely and still fearful, I had had enough. I would simply walk off the sidewalk at the next intersection, I thought. I would take a few, delicate side steps and come to a stop. As I crested the summit of this last winding bit of side walk, I repeated my wide knee, wavy line leg maneuver, but for some reason this time my legs pulled closer together. I was building up speed as I zoomed down toward the intersection and without even slowing, decided to put my side shuffle step plan into action.
When the first wheel of my left rollerblade hit the dirt, I planted there. Well, my leg started by planting there, then my other leg came over and I literally flew in what can only be described as a mid-air summersault over the place I had just touched down and landed flat on to my back. I could already hear the traffic commotion I imagined I was setting off. Surely, people would be pulling over to save me, to help me, to at the very least chastise me for not investing in pads of some sort. There were probably fire rescues on their way, dispatched my multipole callers.
I laid still and played dead until Katy Perry finished singing “Teenage Dream” to me. Slowly I rolled up to survey the damage. No one had stopped. No one was looking at me. There was blood and dirt and humiliation but I was fine. I kicked off the rollerblades and knotted the laces, slinging them over my shoulders as I put my sneakers on. I dusted the dirt off of my face and straighten up as best as I could, then limped home. Moments later, the company called to say my car was ready.
I don’t know why I kept the rollerblades, as I will clearly never attempt to use them again, but what had seemed so embarrassing then felt really funny and familiar to me as I stood momentarily transfixed in my closet today. As a new week begins with infinite possibilities maybe I needed the reminder; lean into fear. Just not while I am going downhill on rollerblades.