Thursday, November 26, 2009

Roller Skatin': An Exercise in Gratitude

There is so much to be grateful for, too much. I mean, how can I consciously appreciate everything---my honey love, my momma, my sweet friends, my house, my health, my body and mind, my spirit connection with the world, my bike, my extended family, my job, my literacy, my lap-top, my students---and still have time to write and play back gammon? Leave it to me to find a way to be overwhelmed by all that I am lucky enough to have and experience. Leave it to me to turn gratitude into a burden.

Yesterday was one of those glory days: by high noon I was racing the waves up the smooth beach, so warmed by the sun that had I not been with students, I would have stripped down to my underwear and plunged in. After a ceremony around a canopy of bells and a hike over rugged sand dunes, I felt the zing of aliveness. I watched the boys doing back flips off the dunes, running wild and fearless into the ocean. I hiked back with my pants rolled above my knees, my calves and feet salted and sandy and grower tougher with each step.

As a school, we feasted on turkey and green beans, countless pies and dairy-free ice cream. We sat outside and sipped sparkling cider and felt the coastal winds start to pick up speed. After stopping by a co-worker's house for a sampling of her home-made cordials (blackberry, rose love potion, apricot), I came home to a sunset nap. Then an early evening walk to Community Market for last minute Thanksgiving essentials. I felt a sense of peace that, I realized sadly, escapes me on a daily basis.

So happy and energized, what else to do but go roller skating? Though I go ice-skating with students every year, I hadn't been roller skating since the Clinton administration. Right away I felt at home---the smell of wax and nachos, those brown-carpeted boxed seats, the tan skates with orange wheels. And, of course, the resident weirdos, like the white-haired man who ogled all the girls while gyrating/skating backwards, or the greasers who did hand stands in the middle of the rink.

Oh, the fun of it! I skated so fast I couldn't imagine braking. I skated so hard and fast I quickly needed to fold down my knee socks, hike up my long sleeves. I skated so long and hard that today I have a walnut-sized blister on the bottom of my right foot. I skated for nearly two hours, my boyfriend intermittently video-taping me rap to Vanilla Ice or bust some dance moves to "Livin' on a Prayer." Then he'd skate off to attempt twirls and single-foot stunts, sometimes crouching low to better tape the synchronized footing of an older couple.

I loved the feeling of my knotty hair flying behind me. I loved singing the lyrics to "Like a Virgin" and "Can't Touch This." I loved slowing down to hold hands. I loved that by the end of the night I'd nearly mastered the cross over on the turns. At ten o'clock we shared a handful of dispenser candy as we walked out into the cool night air. I am so very thankful that at thirty years old, as I am coming more fully into adulthood, I am still tickled by skates, skirts, skittles, giggles, corny tunes, and star-splattered knee socks.

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