By Kimberly Thorson Rundles
"Life is truly found in lacing up and getting out there. Again and again and again. Trying, falling, getting better and then bravely helping others get out there too."
The invitation arrived on a Tuesday afternoon. By Friday evening, the soles of my suede ankle boots crunched softly on the gravel-covered parking lot as we walked towards the Roll Arena. The tender palm of my six-year-old son pressed bravely into my own.
This was something new and he was nervous. My cheerful chatter was merely a rue, a temporary distraction to help ease the palpable tension. “This is what makes life fun,” I said, “So what if we are not very good at it, we will get better and it's nice to do something different.”
The roller rink was different, but life is different and we have to step out there to truly live it.
As we pushed open the grimy glass doors covered in fingerprints and skate grease it hit me. Like a mighty rushing wind blowing through a middle-school locker room, the scent of adolescent insecurity hung in the atmosphere like a desperate cloud. Strobed disco-lights cut the darkness in wild pulsating patterns of neon and the mirrored ball hovering over the well-worn wooden floor spun to the beat of 90’s Top 40.
He looked up at me, wide-eyed. He smiled. I nodded. This was the roller rink. This is what we had come for.
In a dark corner of the common area, the birthday party was set up. It was a Friday night after all and six-year-old birthday parties would just have to acquiesce to the rhythm of the regular crowd. We found the guest of honor, exchanged pleasantries and picked up our ticket for our skates. Like carp swimming upstream, we labored against the neurotic flow of bodies balancing precariously upon wheels and made our way to the skate window.
The girl at the skate window yawned and looked tired. I muttered something about her being too young to be so tired, realizing only too late that I had defaulted into some sort of un-cool mom zone. She half-smiled as I quickly guessed at our sizes and she retrieved them from the racks.
Sliding my hands into the leather boots as she passed the skates through the window, I promptly felt my stomach turn. Sweat. Straight-up sweaty leather skates. No amount of Lysol spray in those boots was going to convince me otherwise. Good Lord, was this the way it was when I was younger too? Not like it would have mattered I supposed, and it wasn’t going to matter tonight either. We had committed. We were going to live a little. We were doing this.
We tightened our laces, clomped out towards the wooden rink and then stopped at the wall. Leaning against the sticky barrier we simply watched. Couples, toddlers, mothers on skates with strollers, tattooed mid-lifers and pimpled adolescents all skating, falling, laughing, struggling and sometimes gracefully gliding round and round and round and round.
And as we stood there, witnessing this raw slice of humanity all ablaze in disco-lights, a thought came to me. About life and love and how we all at some point just have to decide to lace up our skates and step out into the rink. To bravely try something different from our carefully curated everyday routine. Because deep down, in this world of spinning round and round and round, we know that we are going to miss some pretty amazing things if we never truly step out there.
Sure, we know that stepping out there means it’s sometimes going to get ugly and we will fall and get hurt and need people to help us up. But we also know that sometimes it is really lovely and freeing and fun.
Life is truly found in lacing up and getting out there. Again and again and again. Trying, falling, getting better and then bravely helping others get out there too.
It was a sobering thought as I took my son’s hand. We watched that sea of neon-strobed humanity wobble and glide around the wooden rink until eventually, we too found a break in the current and bravely stepped in. It was awkward and humorous and painful and fun. We fell down and we got tired, but we also laughed hard and cheered loudly as we went round and round and round and round.
When the night was over, the cake was cut and the skates were reshelved, we exhaustedly sat down and slid our shoes back on trying not to look too closely at the black-flecked carpet greedily holding on to old nacho cheese and spilled soda pop. And right then there we decided it was worth it. Totally worth it. In fact, we kinda loved it.
Sure the roller rink was different, but life is different and we have to step out there to truly live it.
Pushing through the greasy glass doors for home, we stepped out into the cool night air. Above the dark sky held a canopy of glittering stars that caused even the brightest neon to pale in comparison. We breathed deeply as we walked. The gravel of the parking-lot crunched softly beneath the soles of our shoes and I gently squeezed his hand.
He looked up at me, wide-eyed. He smiled. I nodded. This was life. This is truly what we had come for.
Kimberly currently resides in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee where her biggest blessings call her momma. A Professional Life Coach and Behavioral Consultant, she gets a real kick out of helping people uncover their hidden treasures, discover their God-given destiny, and then bravely get out there and truly live life. You can read more from her and discover your own hidden gems at www.bodysoulnspirit.com.