Lessons With Lance

Skating Lessons
Lance Everyone


I was raised on the ocean in a little town in Northern California...terms like "dropping in"; "floater" and "bottom turn" are very familiar to me. They reflect that particular environment I walked through everyday. Those are surfing terms.

California has a very "watery" atmosphere about it. You float to work in the morning on a foamy McFrappes or whatever tides you over until lunch. The weather reminds one of what it would be like to live in a bathtub (wait...make that a hot tub). People are bubbly. They tend to spill all over you. It is a moist existence.... foggy at times, but never humid.

Welcome to Condominium California.

Now I live here in Boulder, Colorado. I carry my own cornstarch decomposable "silverware", my own mug ("No coffee, thank you."), and I work for a green company. I know... I am becoming Boulderized. In comparison to that other city in California that I am from, Colorado is arid. People aren't necessarily dry, however. They are warm.

A few days ago, I felt that I finally gained an understanding about Colorado's Front Range. And I learned some new idioms too: "reverse scissors", "crossovers" and "zamboni". Escorting my three-year-old niece from Hagen Daz Ice Cream back to the car one evening, we came upon an outdoor ice skating rink. It had just popped up in an empty lot. Holiday music was playing. Christmas lights surrounded it. It exuded innocence. A small crowd was gliding around...and Colleen's eyes got really big. So being the uncle, I had to follow her over.

Ambushed, we were, by apple cider essence and those umbrella heaters that I never saw in California, straw bales to sit on... We sat down, a clerk came over to us and pulled out a new wool hat and some wool socks to get Colleen warmed up enough for this adventure. We put on our skates. Wow - American service - how refreshing, caring. My mouth was agape. I had skated once before at a skating rink in another country 7 years ago, but I didn't remember the experience very well. It felt a little different here in Boulder.

I got a chair for Colleen to sit in, got us both on the ice, and pushed Colleen from behind as I skated as fast as I could ...strange things came to me...Joni Mitchell - wishing she had a river so she could skate away, a Vince Giraldi tune with Linus and his blanket, and hot cocoa in cheesy ceramic Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus mugs. This skating felt so right.

I never owned or liked rollerblades. I thought, "how could I have missed this pleasure all these years? " People were smiling with red cheeks. No one showing off his or her new bindings or snowboard jackets. Everybody was on the same level out there. A woman was skating in the middle of the rink and I asked her how she skated backwards. She didn't think consulting fees...she gave me a 5-minute lesson for free.

Why is everyone so friendly here? I wondered. This is great

Colleen would get tired, ask to go home, but then just as we got off the ice, she would ask to do it again, and we would. I was overcome with a melancholy, the kind you might have if you had met your lifetime partner when you were in your 90's instead of your twenties. Luckily, I had just turned 32. In my mind, ice used to be synonymous with "cold" and "hard." Not anymore. Colleen was radically altered by that night on the ice. So was I. In this world of synthetic/genetic/frenetic fears, post y2k gloom, cell phone jingles and electronic jungles, a little ice skating brings one back to the important things: breathing, movement... and joy.

Email Lance at: Lance@hybridmagazine.com 

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