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
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...
Email Lance at: Lance@hybridmagazine.com