NB: Juuuuuuust wanna thank you all for your wonderful and humbling comments on my singing in the post prior to this one. You're all too freakin' sweet! Yeah you are! I was sincerely touched and y'all had me grinning from ear to ear, so my most heartfelt thanks. And now I'll leave you to the below post in which I went rollerblading last Friday and had...existential musings about it. Hahah! I promise that, in spite of the slight lengthiness, it's engaging...er, yes, sure it is. Tee hee!
"Hold up, where are you going? Rollerskating centre? By yourself?"
"Yes, ma." I sighed with mock exasperation.
"Why now? And why there? It's in Sunshine; Sunshine is dodgy. And it's dark! Why would you go there?"
Um, because I'm 27 and I can? And it's as if I'm heading into Lucifer's den, not the suburb of Sunshine! (Okay, fine, sometimes Sunshine can be sketchy.) (All right, a LOT sketchy.)
"Maaaa...! Ingrid was meant to come but now she can't, and why wouldn't I go by myself? And the rollerskating centre has a gated, enclosed carpark that's, like, right near the door. I'll be in and out in no time. Hell, I'll text you when I'm in there AND when I'm leaving."
I am 27 and this is present time.
(Sidebar: Mama and her partner have been staying with us the past month because the apartment they had been renting for quite a few years was recently put on the market, and they didn't want to risk things ahead of their three-month Europe trip -- and pay rent for an empty apartment that may get sold while they're overseas, or soon after their return -- so they decided to vacate ahead of time and, naturally, Yogi and I told them they were more than welcome to stay with us.)
And so in spite of my adulthood, now that mama has been staying with us there are these Twilight Zone-ish moments wherein she still sees me as the baby that will be swallowed by the big bad dark of freakin' 7:30pm; the big bad dark that lurks with gremlins and goblins and maniacs and psychopaths, all loitering near the rollerskating centre so that they can pounce on me; the big bad dark of the rollerskating centre teeming with kids and teenagers.
("Gremlins" and kids and the dark, oh my!)
OMG, I'm going to be the only twentysomething there, I can see it now. The kids are going to gawk at me as if I'm a circus freak, a sideshow. "Come one, come all! Behooooold the 27-year-old daring to step foot inside a rollerskating centre swarming with young'uns! She's got balls, that one."
I head for the wardrobe and pull out my Mighty Ducks jersey, the hanger clanging as I yank it off. (Yes, I have a Ducks jersey, heh heh. A present from Yogi a few years ago, 'cause he's awesome like that.) I pull it over my head and adjust it over my jeans. I wear the hockey jersey like an armour; or more of a costume, really. It's my "in". The jersey might just camouflage the fact that I'm no longer one of them. Them. That elusive group I once formed part of from 13 to 19 and couldn't wait to flee because I wanted to "grow up" as it were.
Here's the jersey in aaaaall its glory on Friday night post-rollerblading. I totally look like I could fit in in either of the last two Mighty Ducks movies, huh? Tee hee!
Growing up. Huh.
"I can't wait to grow up and BE a grown-up. Can't wait to go clubbing and drive everywhere and anywhere and...just DO everything."
When we're little we see a Vaseline-over-the-lens glamour, excitement and freedom in adulthood. We reach out towards it with open arms and whine and think people in their 20s and 30s have it aaaaall figured out; that being an adult is so much better than being a kid, a kid no one listens to, because of the freedom and the getting to drive and the going out and the whatever.
But there's so much that's beautiful, insouciant and innately pure about being a kid.
* * *
I fidget as I wait in the queue to pay my $12 entry. Music is pumping on the other side, muted and muffled by the walls separating the foyer from the main attraction. I slide a few dollar bills over to the man in charge and push through the double-doors. The music floods my ears, coming to vibrant life with the opening of the doors. Kids and teenagers skate and blade around. (There's equal representation of both blades and skates out on the floor.) Some kids are only learning and they maniacally (and hilariously) flail their arms about as they try not to trip all over themselves or get in the way of the more experienced skaters. I sit down and start pulling on the rollerblades I haven't seen in -- God, how long has it been? In fact, I can't recall the last time I rollerbladed. Has it been ten years? Er, surely it hasn't been THAT long? One of the rollerblades won't clasp properly so I improvise and stretch my jeans over the bulky top of the rollerblade. I roll out onto the floor and immediately speed into the skating. It's as though I never stopped, 'cept for the part where I feel a stinging pressure shooting up my shins as I push forward and increase my speed.
I skate past kids who are confident and stellar.
I skate past kids who are unsure and nervous.
I skate past lanky teenagers with limbs ahoy.
I skate past two 50-year-old men who are AMAZING skaters and were clearly some sort of professionals back in their day.
I skate past sedentary parents in the cafeteria, hunched over and gabbing away to other parents, periodically throwing fries into their mouths.
I skate past---
"Whooaaaa, watch it, kid!"
I nearly trip over a boy who wasn't looking where he was going and almost smashed riiiiiiiight into me. Kids these days. (Ha!) Man, it's freakin' freezing in here...had I know they'd up the aircon (in winter!) to "Arctic chill" level I would've taken a beanie or something.
(Brain: Oh, cram it, grandma!!)
17-year-old me. Dancer's physique, Britneyesque abs. Y'all, I was obsessed with dancing, sports and keeping fit. I can't say that 27-year-old me exhibits that same zeal, though I wish I did. Oh well! Heh heh.
I'm flying through the space. Now and again I eye my watch to see how much time has elapsed and when I'll go home. Just another five minutes. Another ten minutes. I'm bargaining with myself as if I'm accountable to anybody else in that moment. (Brain: Hey, you don't have to convince ME! I'm lovin' this!)
And then that insipid yet terribly catchy "Blue Da Ba Dee" blasts out of the loudspeaker and I feel a frisson of nostalgic warmth, and suddenly it's as if it's 1999 (when that dratted song was a hit) and I'm only fourteen; I'm a 14-year-old with so many dreams that I can't keep them straight; a 14-year-old that is desperate for her first kiss and doesn't realise it'll happen a few months after she turns 15 when she's not expecting it, and it'll be surprisingly good; a 14-year-old that rollerblades before or after homework -- depending on the seasons and nightfall -- and speeds down the pavement with sometimes a grin and sometimes a pensive or angry expression; a 14-year-old that, inexplicably, wants to be a pop star à la Britney, and watches her video clips to learn the choreography to Baby One More Time and You Drive Me Crazy, because (old school) Britney appears to be living a charmed life filled with dancing and pretty threads and tours with NSYNC; a 14-year-old that studies (waaaay) too hard and demands perfection from herself, even when no one else does.
I see myself in all these kids and teens skating by; I see it in the earnestness and the energy and the infectious laughter that comes from deep within the belly and the devil-may-care way they move across the floor as if there's no one to manoeuvre around and it's just them out there. And ultimately it doesn't matter that you enjoy being a grown-up and you're content in your life, as an individual and as part of a marriage. Because when you see kids being kids and squealing with delight and just being in the moment, you're moved by the sight and transported back to your own (relatively) happy childhood...you see your mini-me and how colossal the world seemed when you were only little and everything trumped that littleness.
But that colossal world was yours for the taking and the proverbial road ahead was filled with oodles of possibilities and dreams waiting to be realised and OH the time, so much time...! That philosophy is ephemeral inasmuch as, although as adults we may still see possibilities and believe in the realisation of a dream or two, we never see it with that same conviction, fervency and self-assurance as we did when we were younger. The older you get the more prone you are to (over-)analysing and self doubt and you're stripped of those layers that cocooned you as a kid, the layers that ensured exuberance and a "Booyah! The world is my oyster!" attitude.
I know, I'm just stating the obvious and a-ramblin'.
And to think that this all started with rollerblading, of all things.