The Dairy Ashford Roller Rink, Houston

“The scars of your love remind me of us. They keep me thinking that we almost had it all.” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” from her album 21 aches in a way that speaks to an experience I expect from someone much older. The sophomore release from the English singer-songwriter took the world by storm, finding ways to pacify a collective sorrow and angst that many had buried away. That same collective recognition earned Adele and the album six Grammy Awards as well as a long held spot on many radio airwaves.

Scars are bits of fibrous connective tissue that appear over wounds. Upon forming, they can be especially rigid and firm. The human body is quite a resourceful tool in the way that it heals. Over time, scars will reduce in size, texture and inflammation, yet, I haven’t seen a scar fully heal so that the exterior is exactly the way that it was before the piercing event. There is simply a reminder that something occurred, but that healing is possible. Even so, scarring and the reduction of said scars takes time, care and intention.

I remember roller skating as a kid. I don’t recall owning a pair of skates of my own, so rentals were my skate of choice. The rentals I remember were quite possibly the ugliest “prison jumpsuit brown” waxed canvas or leather with orange wheels and a forward facing stop guard. I assume they were ugly to prevent theft, but maybe it was just cheaper to produce as well, as if the skate company knew that if they made these rental skates ugly it would inspire those passionate about skating to buy their own custom skates. I never reached out to skate companies to confirm this theory, so it stands wholly a wild theory at this point.

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I used quad roller skates, not blades which were gaining in popularity in the mid nineties. I am pretty sure that roller blades weren’t officially allowed in the oval shaped rink at the time, but I could be wrong. Checking Dairy Ashford Roller Rink’s website (here), it looks as though times have changed, as well as some of the rink aesthetics. While I pined for a little nostalgia, I am equally as glad to see that the rink has updated from what I remember nearly 20 years ago.

Each time that I arrived to skate, almost the identically same process occurred; entrance to the rink, picking up the rentals, reading the injury disclaimer posted in multiple areas of the building, sitting down to take off my shoes, lacing up the skates and doing a wobbly and unsure dance of a walk to the rink entrance. If you were lucky, you found a table or bench close to the rink entrance to scoot to. Once on the wooden floor, I would hold onto the light shag carpet-protected wall as to gain my senses amid hits of the day played as lasers moved in formation across the floor. This usually meant almost robotically stiffly attempting to move my feet and as a result falling on my tailbone. Thankfully the only thing that really stung was my pride.

The key, outside of trying not to fall was specifically not falling while any fellow skaters were gaining speed in your general direction. If so, you would have to learn to speed up your return to your feet as to not collide causing more spills. As you had previously read in your process before, the rink accepted no responsibility for your injuries or injuries stemming from a decision to get in the rink. You excitedly assumed that risk, compadre.

The roller rink was a beacon for birthday parties. I remember being invited to friends’ parties as a kid as well as celebrating my own 10th or 11th birthday at the roller rink. I was really into Looney Tunes cartoons at that age (Taz may have been my favorite, but who’s counting?). The graphic on the sheet cake was similar to the final slides of one of the Looney Tunes cartoons that would normally read “That’s All, folks!”. In retrospect, that seems super morbid and ironic for an 11 year old birthday, but I didn’t pay it much mind at the time. I was there to skate, open presents and eat cake. And I was done with presents and probably done skating for the day, too.

Something that stands out to me for skating, as well as with other wheeled sports, is that once you build speed and momentum, you start to naturally move without the fear of falling or at least with visibly much less fear. You commit to what instinctually finds the least resistance and exert some confidence. Point blank; we all have to let go of the wall at the rink to be able to glide across the open floor. It requires trust in the unknown, confidence in our abilities, and a reduction of our learned tendencies to stay guarded.

I think that we all face opportunities to grow in ways that scare us. It may not happen so decidedly on a daily basis, but it occurs more often than we realize. Maybe it’s a major decision to move into a role at work which will develop skills you don’t currently practice often. Maybe it’s a decision to stick to a budget in our personal finances that will one day lead to achieving the dreams of a new car or home. Maybe it’s deciding to open up more in our relationships. Maybe it’s starting your own business in a different field.

All of these things can be scary, but can grow us outside of ourselves. Sometimes these things lead to the dreams we set, but there is no manual nor guarantee that they will happen the way we plan. We can, however, be true to the process and make the next best decision that is presented.

Some people faced with these decisions listen to their gut. Some describe trusting in a higher power. Some listen for the situation to guide them. Sometimes it’s a mix of fact and feeling. What I have found, is that more often than not, my growth benefits from my (at times reluctant) vulnerability. Moving past the wounds and scars of the past which trigger my defense to change.

I recently watched a Brene Brown special on Netflix entitled “the Call to Courage”. Brown, who over the past 20 years has studied shame, empathy, courage and vulnerability (coincidently enough, Brown is also a professor at The University of Houston) cites vulnerability as a strength when leveraged properly. The strength lies in having honest conversations with ourselves and others. It may not always mean being agreeable, but always true to who we are.

As we grow older, our center of gravity shifts. It transforms our abilities from a centralized and compact point to a different area within us. The same level of balance is possible, but requires a conscious effort.

I don’t always have answers, but I see a connection between skating, scars, centers of gravity, vulnerability and growth. For me it is still a work in progress. But I hope that you join me in the situations that you share this common experience. May we all grow in ways that allow us to move past the things that pierce us into the lives that allow us to dream and achieve even if that leaves us breathless at times or feels less certain than holding onto the comfort of our walls.

 

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