November 27, 2009
Sunday Morning at the Rink
I love Sunday mornings at the Rink. It reminds me of my own childhood at the stable. A subject for another blog but the “feeling” is the same.
We have all our regulars, old and young. Hockey skaters and figure skaters and speed skaters…The coaches move amongst them, voices ringing in the cold morning air of the arena. There isn’t anyone there that doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t NEED to be there. And while I guess there is a subtle class structure amongst the mothers, the “club” skaters vs the “basic” skaters vs the recreational skaters, it doesn’t feel so strict or harsh on Sunday mornings.
Sunday mornings, early, are my favorite. We all “know” each other even if we haven’t spoken and we realize that we are part of something…a community. And when one of us isn’t there…we wonder.
It’s cold. Jay keeps saying that eventually he will figure out the formula. Tank top, turtle neck, sweater, jacket, gloves…doesn’t matter. It still seems that we are cold no matter what the wardrobe.
It’s quiet. Not a lot of teenagers on dates. Few of the run of the mill “public skate” folks bother to get up at 8am on a Sunday morning.
There is an Asian man, in his 50’s, who does figures in the corner…works hard at them, and obviously was once a competitor and is disappointed in his performance, though I find him remarkable.
There is one young woman who doesn’t wear the girly outfits, wears pants and a short sleeved top, dark haired, intense, who does triples like it was her job. She skates in a world that we all wish we could join.
There is the hockey mom. She has two girls and a boy, all in hockey skates and pads and they skate fast, and go down on their knees and she makes them do their crossovers, picking up the gloves they’ve dropped, while she skates around them.
There is the mother/daughter combo, that always makes me sad. The daughter wears a red velvet skating skirt and the mother is NEVER satisfied with her performance and you can see the tears well up in her eyes at the words that Mom says, and the words that she doesn’t.
There is the guy in the speed skates…eyes shadowed…moving fast…trying to be a part…but obviously of another ilk.
There is the lady in her 60’s who can still do leaps and jumps and spins…and moves across the ice with such joy and happiness. She is my favorite.
And then there is my Calamity. Her coach, Rich, is 6’4″ without skates. His wife, Natasha couldln’t be more Iowa lovely, and yet can still do a triple and make all the kids look bad. Looking up at him can almost make Calamity fall over. He smiles, and chastises and demands as appropriate. Natasha gives her that tough love, and the exceptions that encourage her to excel. We love him for his good heart, good humor, and his JOY as he glides across the ice. We love her for her commitment to make it “right” and yet still let our daughter know that she means something, is valuable, and someone they CARE about, which is why they work so hard with her. They do this for each and every skater they coach. This is why their students and parents all feel so special, part of something good, as we know we have some of the best PEOPLE, let alone coaches, working each day with our children. They don’t seem to know the difference they make. They should.
They show her who she can be and why it means something to be great. Natasha is a joy. And a safe place. Rich knows how to draw the line, and push Calamity past it, and make her GLAD that he did. Natasha is so unbelievably graceful she brings tears to your eyes. We are so lucky that these are the people we have given over our child to befriend and mold. And I see it in her face, so intent, so intense, so FIERCE, as she commits to whatever they ask, even if it’s scary or dangerous. And when she falls, she gives us thumbs up as she yells, “I’m okay, I’m okay.” And to see how she CARES about doing it right, and making them happy, and being a part of their world.
I watch her take her 8 year old body and bend it to her will, I listen to the music play, my nose runs in the cold and I’m just so DAMN happy. I am not a skater. This isn’t something I picked. I would be happy if she just wanted to play around. Calamity wants to be good. Calamity wants to do it right. Calamity gets frustrated when the edges aren’t right. And fights through it, til she gets it right.
I am so proud. And so lucky. And so grateful that I have been able to find other people to include in the life of my daughter who genuinely love her and care about HER as a person, not just as a skater or a paycheck.
Sunday mornings at the rink. A good place to be.
Thank you, Natasha, Rich and Tammy.
Epilogue: January 2017
16 year old Calamity sat down with me and told me she misses it . The closest Ice Rink here in Ocala is an hour and half away in Daytona. She said even though she’s probably too old to compete in competitions anymore she still wants to skate and bring it back into our lives. I told her that the drive was worth it and I would make it happen. (And this rink on Wednesdays has “Dog Park on Ice” so our dogs might start a day a week too!). I think the lesson here is two fold. It’s never too late to do something you love. And the good things will always come back if you wait.
Thank you again Natasha, Rich and Tammy.