Friday, August 27, 2010
Half a World Away - Back to Reality.
Before I return to my Seoul adventures that are taking longer in the retelling than the trip itself, I need to share some quick impressions of my yesterday.
Our skater came home, albeit for only a short night and a day, before heading to the Olympic Training Center for what is called Champs Camp. I am not going to belabor the emotions surrounding seeing the bedroom door closed for the first time since last Christmas, getting some shared time in the car to talk like we used to do years ago during our Aspen to Colorado Springs commutes and having the joy of hearing sarcastic comments as comebacks to my questions. Let's just say that it became a Polaroid portfolio of the past 21 years, snapped in seconds but mirroring time in shades of gray. However, when our skater decided that he would do a session at his old training facility instead of going to the city arena, what returned in Technicolor were the memories of years in the rink.
I've talked before about how surprisingly easy it was to transition from being a working rink mom to focusing on having a life outside of the bleachers. Since our skater's move, I have barely set foot in the building that was part of our lives for more than 10 years. While I have kept up with friends and chatted with other skaters via Facebook and email, I have not found my car mysteriously driving itself down the once well-worn path to the rink parking lot. Yesterday, I was faced with a bad case of "Deja Vu All Over Again" as I pulled up to the entrance, popped the trunk to release the skating bag and then pulled into an all-to-familiar space, facing the car forward for a quick escape. We were back in the building.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to have your life flash before your eyes, for me this was it. I was not chomping at the bit to walk into the lobby. I was looking for some affirmation, or any familiar face that did not belong to a coach or another skating parent. I had become very comfortable with my role of working professional non-skating parent. This experience was taking me back in time, and to a mental "script" that had a denouement more than a year ago. In other words, I was over it. The only driving force making my feet move in that direction was seeing my skater on the ice. Like a photograph, I was a frozen moment.
After the first few, very awkward minutes at the registration desk where parents, coaches and skaters stared like I was some sort of specter - the ghost of skating past - I walked through the doors of the Olympic training rink to be greeted by some not-so-old but very wonderful friends. There were hugs all around from higher level skaters whom I had not seen in a long time. There were some hugs from coaches and friendly words from a few parents. Looking around, things had changed. First, our skater's Nationals banner from 2009 was finally hanging from the ceiling. Next, the photo artwork that graced the wall above the skate shop was gone. The wall on the north end of the rink was an "interesting" and somewhat distracting shade of green. But the bleachers were still there; they were still cold. The session was still over crowded and the tension was still the same. I felt at home, but it was a home I knew I didn't live in any more. I was glad for that.
Now, I will refer you to a previous blog called The Things I Miss Most.
Sitting by myself watching only my skater, I realized I truly do miss the process more than the product. I love watching the development of a program. I did see some nerves at taking familiar ice in an unfamiliar situation, but it all melted away as my skater's friends - including some of his competitors - came over to say hi, shake his hand and make nice comments.
Once everything reached a level of comfort, work was done. It was exciting. It was the part of Deja Vu that reminded me why, after all these years, we look back at the snapshots. Pasted together, they create a panorama that few can really comprehend, and even fewer can claim. Like great art, it was there to be appreciated at every level. I didn't need to understand it; I only needed to experience it. I had returned. Now, it was time to move on.