skating

My parents said I was too young to attempt my first High School Sponsored Roller Skating Party. Far from my home, transportation was a problem, but I finagled a ride. The night is muddled in my memory but photos in the high school yearbook emblazon the ruins.
I had to catch a glimpse of Daniel again, suddenly remote since his Freshman year.
Silent, after our youthful years of murmured exchanges and vows over the phone. I had idolized Daniel, a much older man, since the 5th grade. He was my first whispered secret, my first embrace. Naively, we promised: not high school nor distance would change our grade school romance.

I held to that promise tightly on the long cool ride downtown to The Skating Rink.
I saw Them, first. The cheerleaders and A squad that pretended to ignore his athletics: Judy, Lois, Beth, Donna, Bonnie. I hated them because he called out their names as he spun to the outside of the circle. They looked away and blushed, joining him with feigned giggles. Showing off, he balanced his skates against the rails and his long arms swept Them into swirling lights.

He could not see me as miserable tears blurred vision and hands trembled to lace the ridiculous white high top skates. Legs, weakened, didn’t even allow a single wobble around the multicolored rink.
He was lost to those who conceded to him. He ignored me because I refused. I mourned that our old relationship was such an embarrassment that I was not even worth one round in the pounding music.
I remember this moment frozen in anguish as this was the exact hour in which I realized I was invisible: I was alone in a crowd of one hundred. I did not know I had been so all along.
The music silenced. Lights dimmed. My ride left me alone at the Roller Rink, as the skates were put away and I blindly fumbled with knots. Frantically, I wept into a pay phone to an unsympathetic operator who tried only half- heartedly to reach through the busy signal at home.
I was confident my absence would quickly be discovered by my large family as Roller Rink managers closed the doors behind me.
A shattered splinter on a bitter Denver night. I scrunched, against a failing mercurial light, terrified. A shadow fading into the dark.
I cannot provide a time for my parking lot wait for in these situations, seconds feel like hours.
My inwardly enraged father arrived in his empty navy van. There were no skating rink employees on which he could vent his anger at pushing a child into the dark. He was a War veteran, though, and at the risk of his ulcer, expressed the intensity of his anxiety by calmly indicating I would not be allowed out again on a school night.
As he smoked, I eased onto a familiar naugahyde bench and vanished into the midnight, Blue.

11 comments

  1. bless you cheryl – fyi: roll out on those roller skates O’LIFE and take no and no prisoners.! girlfriend – show us how to express ourselves. my oh my — he didnt see you – becuz you were blonde, and cute, and a lively conversationalist –

  2. This is a sad story and I do not remember any of it. How terrible to be left there in the dark – alone. Did we make any effort to report this to school? Glad you made it OK but it did leave a scar. JW

    1. Surprisingly, I believe there was a couple of miscommunications. I did not go skating again. Never have been big on parties or Denver or crowds. I from that time forward i have always gone with a “never ride with someone else, always take your own car” approach. That makes me wiser, as do all our prized mistakes.

  3. Anonymous via email
    And, we have yet to learn that true love is not a “feeling” but a choice to respect, show consideration, a choice of self denial and patience, things not usually priorities when we’re still just punks…which for some of us can last into one’s 30’s.

  4. Your story reminds of a long ago High School Prom. Unaware that high school was a mating ritual and especially Prom night. Alone not a part of the croud, I played Arcade nickel PIN BALL bumper games while the the others danced, drank and had a high old time. Envious!
    Dad.

  5. Daniel and I are still email pals. (Advanced Mutual Forgiveness 202). He grew into a fine compassionate man who was devastated by the angst of this event.
    We Were Stupid When We Were Kids 203.

    1. Anonymous email response
      we do need to look into the mirror but we need to keep in mind that the rearview mirror is very small and the windshield is very big, that’s where we should focus.

      EXACTLY. Thank you.

  6. Lest ye feel sad for this far away Blue Child, this was Lesson 1 in the study of Don’t get into Impossible Situations 101. I now am on my graduate level of
    Learn When To Let Go Of Past Hurts 601.

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