It’s been at least 40 years since I strapped a pair of roller skates to my feet and set off in any kind of forward motion. If you were a child of the 70’s you will remember there was only one type of roller skate…. a metal base with red straps and four clunky wheels. But they worked and off we trundled along the bumps and cracks of the pavements and didn’t really mind when we fell over. After, when you’re only 10 there’s not as far to fall is there?
Fast forward to April 7th, 2018; I’m 49 1/2 and I found myself lacing up my boots at my very first Roller Disco. Eeek! This should be fun though, right? Right?
On paper, or in my very imaginative head, roller skating is easy peasy. You just push off and let the wheels do the work; gliding effortlessly around with the wind in your hair and a big smile on your face. In reality my legs turned to concrete, and I was petrified.
My lovely friend Helen also claimed she hadn’t skated for 30 odd years, but as soon as the boots were on, she was off, skating around the hall like a total pro. She didn’t stand there like me, refusing to move. Nope, she pushed one leg out, then the other and repeated it. Sounds simple, yes? No. I literally froze to the spot, my legs doing everything but moving. Shaking, yes. Moving, no.
As much, much, much younger people, okay children, skated past me without a care in the world, I gave myself a talking to and reminded myself what was the worst that was going to happen? Obviously, I could fall over (I was expecting to anyway); I could break a bone (pah, what’s new!) or I could hurt my back; crack my head open or just make a complete tit of myself. Jeez – what was I thinking coming along to a blooming roller disco?
But I was here, the music was loud, the room was dark and as Helen waited patiently for me to move, I tentatively wobbled off in a forward direction. I inched forward, my confidence at an all-time low and I’m not going to lie, I was scared. Scared of what I’m not 100% sure – hurting myself (again!) I think. I inched forward a bit more and skated a few steps, feeling the wheels move faster and I slowly, slowly started to relax.
Now you know kids have those penguins when they go Ice Skating? That’s what I needed – a prop that I could hang onto for dear life. Instead, I reached out to Helen for additional support and held onto her arm in some weird kind of Vulcan death grip. Ahh, now I could move! I smiled, even laughed a few times, and we moved around the hall a tiny little bit quicker.
I think it was when I got most relaxed, when I fell over. But I didn’t just fall…. oh no. I felt myself going forward and down, and as there was no way I was going to face plant the floor; I figured doing some kind of a half split before actually hitting the deck would be the best option. And there I was, 49 1/2 years old, unintentionally doing the splits in front of a room full of skaters. On the upside, it didn’t hurt (much!) and I even managed a proper ‘ta dahhhhh’ to the three startled women on whom I almost landed.
My intention, even after the fall and my non-existent confidence, was to skate around the hall on my own, without stopping at least once. So, after I picked myself and dusted myself down, I set off again, still slowly and still a little wobbly, but off I went. I refused to give up – I was actually enjoying it despite the little bit of sick in my mouth.
And before we knew it the time was up; the music stopped, and the lights went on. My cheeks hurt from smiling; my side from laughing and my knee had a slight sting from the fall. And I loved it! I loved every second, even when I was frozen to the spot, and I know after a few more sessions, I will gain a bit more power in my wheels and skate with more ease.
It’s safe to say I don’t think Andrew Lloyd Webber will be asking me to audition for Starlight Express just yet, but hey – never say never!
To read more of 50 Ways to Leave Your 40s, click here.