Last week I was in a funk — frustrated about my lack of progress with skating backwards and anxious thanks to the usual seasonal depression. Jenn and I went to the skating rink, but my mental state had me all out of whack. I wanted to work on my turns and skating backwards, but I was totally uncomfortable doing it under the bright lights and with all those super fast middle school kids zooming past me. Honestly, I haven’t been so intimidated by seventh graders since I was actually in the seventh grade.
Then this guy skates up and starts talking to me. He’s older, and he’s wearing derby style skates. I’ve seen him at the rink a lot, and he seems like a nice enough dude.
“Are you having fun?” he asked me. It took me a little too long to answer, and it was pretty clear I was struggling. I told him I was feeling off balance, and he asked me what I was working on, so we got to talking about turns and how to build up confidence to turn around with out stopping. After a while, he introduced himself as Murray, aka Mr. Mystery, a ref for the DC Rollergirls league and a regular skater at our rink. Murray was just super friendly and helpful. He also noticed that my trucks were way too tight and explained how loosening them up would help me get more comfortable on wheels and increase my agility. He was right. The next day, I practiced standing in one place and turning over and over again. Then moving forwards and backwards without turning around. Once I got used to the slightly loosened trucks, turning began to feel more natural and I was finally able to do several turns without stopping. I spent the rest of the week practicing that, and getting up on my toe stops.
Later in the week, we made a trip out to DC to visit Department of Skate again. We didn’t get to see Raptor, but we met a girl named Sarah, who was ultra helpful and hilarious to boot. Jenn and I both brought our skates in to have a proper lesson on how to adjust and maintain them. We wound up talking to Sarah for two hours about tools, wheels, pads, bearings, local leagues, favorite players, team personalities, rule sets, where to skate and how boot camp works. I hope I retained even a quarter of that information. Maybe it’s just because I’ve interacted more with the DC community, but I’m starting to feel pretty sure that I want to try out for the DC league. I need to make a point of going to more of their bouts in the future.