Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Rolling In The Fast Lane

Posted by Tahirah

Today I went rollerskating.

But today's rollerskating was part of a bigger journey:

When I was younger - perhaps nine or ten - I was a keen in-line skater, (yup, I was rolling on IN-LINES, because when I was ten the Fisher-Price style quad skates were amateurish skaters), and I wistfully remember rollerblading up and down hills and pathways with finesse and skill.

That's how I remember it, lets NOT disillusion me

So when, back in December 2006, we went to Kings Cross roller disco for my big sister's birthday and I rolled the night away - only falling down THREE TIMES; which I'd say is pretty good for someone who hadn't skated for about 8 years, and one of the falls was caused by a piss-head wearing a green afro - I thought "I must get myself some skates so I can put on my MP3 player and create my own disco as I skate through the streets of London."

So months past. Every time I had a bit more than lint in my bank account, I remembered my far-away wish for rollerskates; but it seemed that there was always some other priority.

In August 2007, when my big sis (from another momma & papa) & etiquette teacher Mona-Lisa got her skates the urge came back and I swore vehemently that I'd have my skates by September.

Anyway - "fast fwd" to yesterday - nearly a year & a half after the roller disco - I decided with determination that I was going to buy my skates. And I did!

Every once in a while, I like to lose touch with reality and get these really ostentatious ideas. I had one of those moments yesterday in the shop. I confidently told my friend Hannah that I'd be rollerskating to university the next day. The conversation went like this:

ME: "Yep, I'm going to skate to uni tomorrow" insert shit-eating grin

HANNAH: "What? Tomorrow?"

ME: "Yeah!"

HANNAH: insert pregnant pause "...Erm...isn't your uni in East London?"

ME: "Yeah!" insert unnecessarily overbearing confidence "I've walked from there before you know, it only took like an hour." (FYI - I live South of the river)

HANNAH: "...OK." insert pause, smile and tone of voice that a friend uses so they don't insult you by saying something patronisingly diplomatic that actually means FOOOOOL

Before the park:

Then this morning came. And suddenly, a strong bout of common sense overcame me and I realised that LONDON PAVEMENTS are not the most eVeN surfaces at the best of times, so having four wheels stuck under my foot for an hour might NOT be the best thing to try at 9am. So I decided I'd commence practice in the evening.

I'd coerced my little sister into coming to the park with me, making her believe it was a simple sisterly bonding time and not a way for me to lessen my shame by having company. About 5 minutes of wobbly, dangerous skating down the road, I was ready to turn back - but I decided to persevere, sending my sis back on her bike to get my trainers; if I couldn't skate on the jagged sidewalk I'd walk to and from the park and skate while on the flat tarmac.

Just as I was praying I didn't see someone I knew, I did. So I stood still, grinning and waving in my skates and hoping I wouldn't slip backwards and bust my arse in front of him. I managed not to - but I stwobbled (my new word for 50% wobbling/25% skating/25% walking) to the closest wall to save myself from further embarrassment while waiting for my sis.

In the park:

Kinda finding my balance, I glided down the path way, slowing my strides when joggers or leisurely walkers shared the pathway.

I only slipped ONCE and that was mainly due to a lack of confidence in the wheels than anything else. I feared other peoples' safety more than mine. Just when I thought I was doing well, I saw a woman swiftly pick up her toddler, who was toddling along on the OPPOSITE side of the pathway, when she saw me coming.

THEN. This boy skillfully glided past on his rollerblades, and I stared enviously at him, watching his lackadaisical movements. He skated effortlessly, with the confidence of a pro. THENNN, he started performing tricks, and jumping and dancing like he was part of a street dance collective...IN HIS BLADES.

So I hid for a while, hoping he'd skate off. But he didn't. He was "practicing" RIGHT slap bang in the middle of the pathway, so either way I went he was going to see me rolling along with as much grace as a duck. So instead of turning lime green with envy, I skated up to him and struck up a conversation. He regarded me in that way that professionals do novices; slightly amused and with quiet confidence. So I told him to do some tricks for my camera phone. He was shy, but I managed to get him to buss a couple of moves.

I left before I started to annoy him.

And in the shadow of his talent, I skated allll the way back down the path WITHOUT having to grip onto a bench to steady me or seek reprieve! And on the way home, I felt EXCITED. I'm feeling passionate about something creative that isn't music orrr fashion orrr writing orrr current media; something that I could learn and control and my own pace and I will have total creative control over it. I'm going to keep skating. Every other morning I'm going to be rolling in the fast lane and it doesn't matter that I'm crap now; I'm not going to care if I drop/trip/wobble during the learning process. And I'm going to master the tarmac, then the jagged concrete...perhaps I'll learn some basic tricks, and maybe even revert back to in-line skates! The possibilities are endless!