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.