Skating on a Southern Memory

Today’s trip to Tallahassee included a layover in Atlanta.

I don’t know why, but as the scent of diesel fuel assaulted me on the tarmac, images of my pristinely polished, white, figure skates began to bombard my brain. Then I remembered: this is the city that introduced me to dancing on ice.

I was 8. Even though, I still can’t understand why anyone there wanted an indoor skating rink in the middle of a mall, I loved it. Lacing up those long rows of hooks and eyelets infused me with a sense of sophistication. Envy overtook me whenever I spied a serious skater sporting those shag-carpeted boot warmers with pom-pom tipped laces.

Each lesson ended with an air of accomplishment, aching ankles, and socks scented by the stiff leather. While I only mastered axels and triple salchows in daydreams, I did teach myself to imitate ballet moves on my toe picks. Somehow, though, my instructor was under-whelmed by my unorthodox ideas.

We stayed there for 10 months; just long enough to finish 3rd grade. Heavens to Betsy, what a weird year that was.

With 53 kids in our classroom at Eastside Elementary, we kept our two teachers busy.

We started each day singing patriotic ditties and Goober Peas.

I can’t recall the other woman’s name but Mrs. Vann enjoyed calling me up to the chalkboard where she’d wave a pencil in front of my face.

Then, everybody would watch how long it would take my wandering eye to stray. Hilarious.

Oddly enough, when we had to leave, I was distraught. What can I say?

My parents promised that we would only be in Boston for a year. However, it seems Destiny is a designing woman much like Delta Burke, who doesn’t accept input from anybody.

Eventually, my Southern lilt got lost along with my desire to return to the mall, my skates and the land of Coca-Cola.

In the North, my new Izod-clad classmates acted as if they learned to walk and play hockey simultaneously,.

By comparision, I was clunky and clumsy.

My skating no longer seemed edgy or ethereal and rust ruined my blades while sat neglected in the garage.

I wonder how many other pairs of shoes have lost their special magic through similar moves? All living together in the land of unloved shoes.


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February 2008
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