Fresh Ice
In 2002, at age forty- three, I bought a pair of figure skates. It was almost
on a whim although they weren’t my first pair. I’d figure skated for a few
years as a kid, enough to learn beginning jumps and spins. Despite a
family income that was far too limited to pursue the sport seriously, I had
even acquired one pair of skates with a key marker of goals beyond occa-
sional recreation: The boots and blades came separately. After I quit skat-
ing in 1973, I kept the skates for decades. Mostly, they hung on a hook like
a pair of idled toe shoes, except for a few ventures in the 1990s on a pond
next to my office. Finally, during a 2001 move, by which time they were
incredibly stiff, decrepit- looking, and, I had to admit, too small, I got rid
of them, imagining they’d be my last pair. Even if I wanted to skate again,
I reasoned, I wouldn’t know which boots and blades to buy.
Maybe tossing my old skates initiated a tiny, percolating “no, wait!”
Maybe it freed up a bit of longing that my nostalgic attachment to “good”
skates had actually squashed, because my feet hurt merely putting them
on. Whatever the reason, a few months later, on the lookout for a workout
activity in my new neighborhood, it occurred to me that I hardly needed
“boots and blades” anymore, just skates. I suddenly wanted to find some.
I went to the local Play It Again Sports, bought low- end figure skates,
learned that I lived four blocks from an indoor rink, and took myself to a
public- skating session. All I could do at first was skate shakily around the
edge of the rink, but I really enjoyed it. When I saw that the rink offered
classes for adults only, I signed up, started back at the beginning, and was
increasingly drawn in. I knew I was hooked after I fell on a turn six months
later, badly spraining my writing wrist, and heard myself in the emer-
gency room asking, “when can I skate again?” before almost anything else.
I was back on the ice three weeks later, on the way to becoming an
“adult figure skater,” which, in skating culture, is both a colloquial and
IntroduCtIon
Skate to Write, Write to Skate
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