So, the next few blogs are dedicated to Q&A's from friends and strangers alike.
Here we go:
Q: "How does it feel not to go to the rink every day?"
A: I actually had to think about this question for awhile. In a way, it is like asking an alcoholic what its like to be sober.
I started going to the rink back when there was still patch. Does anyone remember that? Patch was spending hours in a rink watching kids use scribes to carve out figure 8s on the ice and then attempt to trace them with their blades using a series of inside and outside edges. It was cold. It was like watching grass grow. It was something that was done at 5AM every day before school all bundled up in ski clothes, hats, mittens and neck gators - and that was for the skaters! The rest of us headed to the coffee machines (pre-Starbucks: Yes, there was a time before Starbucks!), attempted to watch in the rinks from the boards but mostly stayed in the relative warmth of the rink lobby, sipping brown water, eating Pop Tarts and talking about the next test session, Board meeting or club show. It was not a glamorous life, folks.
In the those days, we went to the rink in the early mornings but we didn't have ice for freeskate every afternoon in the mountains. We went on Mondays, Wednesdays, Friday nights, Saturday mornings before skiing and on Sunday afternoons. Those days were mostly spent schlepping bags, tying skates, playing policeman so the coaches could get something done, designing sets for the shows, arguing about designing sets for the shows, figuring out how to keep the club going and deciding who of our incredibly young and inexperienced skaters were "high level" and who were "low level" when, in fact, they were pretty much one in the same. It all seemed so incredibly important then, and in a way I suppose it was, because it formed the foundation for dealing with life as it exists now.
My "every day" at the rink was a bit different. For two years when our skater was ice dancing competitively (bet most of you didn't know that, did you?), we would leave our mountain home on Thursday mid-day to drive nearly 300 miles each way to Colorado Springs for training. School work was done in the car. There was a lot of great conversation then, too. In retrospect, that is a time that I truly miss. It is my most treasured memory of skating.
Driving was not without its challenges, however: Snow slides, flat tires, horrendous thunderstorms, closed roads, aborted trips for numerous reasons. In good weather, it was a little over 3 1/2 hours rink door to rink door (don't ask about what the speed limit was through South Park - and YES - there is a South Park!). In bad weather, it could take up to eight hours each way. It finally got so bad that my wonderful husband took a second (or was it third) job with an airline so we could fly back and forth. That also helped getting us to and from far-away competitions, the subject of another blog about making ends meet in this sport.
Finally, there was "The Move."
When our skater's coach told us that she had taken him as far as she could and that he needed to get to a training center to continue his skating, we made "The Move." Actually, our skater made the move first, living with a host family for a year. We followed after that, realizing that we could not have it all; we could not continue to live in a mountain resort, have two other children in college, have one costing us more than the others combined. Yes, like so many other skating families, we uprooted our lives. After nearly 30 years for me of living in the mountains, I found myself finally - in the rink every day.
Until our skater got his driver's license, my schedule consisted of driving to school (fortunately not that far from our house), picking up after three periods to go to the rink, watching a session over lunch, going back at the end of the day, watching a late session and then driving us home. Once there was the freedom (and yet another expense) of having a third vehicle in the driveway (never mind the mail box that got taken out on a late day to school or the neighbor's car that got taken out when a parking break did not engage, allowing our skater's car to roll backwards across the street and into the innocently parked Honda), things changed...I think. Going to the rink then became juggling lunch schedules to beat feet down during lunch, bolt a sandwich in the stands, drive like a bat outta you-know-where back to work and then, maybe, getting in a late session after work if the planets were aligned and the phones weren't ringing off the hook in my office.
Then came yet-another version of "The Move." That story is well chronicled so I won't go into it again. Let me just say that it was absolutely the right move - for all of us.
You know, going from this self-imposed and frantic schedule of doing the rink shuffle to being persona-non-grata at what was arguably your "home-away-from-home" is very much like going cold turkey. At first, you don't know what to do with yourself. Lunchtime rolls around and you are actually eating lunch. After work, you actually go home. There is a room that is clean, a door that is open. There is a sense of empty nest but a sense that, like a book popular in the 70's by Gail Sheehy, you know you have reached a level of Passages. It is your own version of AA. You take each day at a time, saying to yourself along the way,
" Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;The courage to change the things that I can; And the wisdom to know the difference."
So, how does it feel not going to the rink every day? Pretty good, actually!