wheels down for public failure

My New Thing is that I decided I wanted to learn how to rollerblade. I don’t recall the inciting event, exactly. I guess it was just that youtube served me a video of someone absolutely sailing through NYC down Broadway and I was like…damn that looks fun.

I tried to learn to roller- & ice-skate when I was young, but both were a disaster. Waaay too much pressure from skating parties (deepest personal nightmare, ages 6-14), plus my brother was a natural at both so I was like OK let me find something else to be good at I GUESS. Plus falling is scary.

So then a few days after the youtube video a coworker mentioned! randomly! that he was teaching himself how to rollerskate and I took that as a sign from the universe (I remain big on signs from the universe telling me what to do.)

The final thing was that I was browsing around on ebay, and I found an extremely new & barely used set of rollerblades my size. Exactly the ones I would buy, but half as expensive. So I put in a very modest bid, thinking I will not win this, but I did. And once you have spent your family’s hard-earned on rollerblades and a stranger is going through the hassle of boxing them up & bringing them to the post office, you are obligated to follow through on the thing.

I don’t have anyone in my life, that I’m aware of, who is either learning to rollerblade, or already successful at it. So I spent a lot of time on youtube watching beginner tutorials. And while I waited for my protective gear to arrive I just wore the skates in my bedroom, not even trying to move, just trying to get use to the feel, finding my balance, standing on both feet, shifting my weight from one foot to other, seeing what muscles I would be learning about now.

A lot of my life lately, a lot of my hobbies, end up being about me trying to feel present in my body. Meditation, singing (I just realized I haven’t posted about my voice lessons, which was my last most recent New Thing), even drawing. I swear I’m not collecting hobbies to distract myself from the pain of living or whatever. But even if I am they seem to be focusing my attention back inward anyway.

So, lots of balancing in my room, lots of youtube videos. I knew I had to get outside at some point and I realized I had a feeling about it: it wasn’t a fear of falling, or a fear of not being able to do it: it was a fear of sucking in public. I live in the city, there’s always people everywhere. There are no quiet secluded areas where I could look like a total idiot and fall on my ass without someone seeing.

Recognizing this, I made a commitment in my men’s group (my last most recent New Thing before voice lessons, I should write about that too I guess) that I would practice outside in public at least 3 times before our next (monthly) meeting. I definitely low-balled myself, 3 is extremely do-able; or at least I knew i would have no trouble doing it twice, but saying it aloud in public made me push myself slightly harder about it.

Anyways. I tried to get one of my kids to come with me, just to keep me company and feel like I had support/someone to hang out with while I did this, but they are teenagers, so you know. I went by myself. It went OK! I spent about an hour going back and forth across a nearby parking lot, with plenty of breaks. By the end I had almost started to feel comfortable-ish, or like I had learned more about balance. I definitely need to learn how to stop and how to turn, as those skills mostly still escape me. But I’m better than I was yesterday, anyway, and I had a hint of that feeling where something goes from completely inscrutable to potentially possible. I got a few looks, a few people said Hi as they walked through the parking lot, but no one laughed. And I only really completely fell on my ass once.