This is the beginning of the end of "Life on the Edge," and like the beginning of the end of 24 years of competitive skating, that's difficult to wrap my mind around. I want to be amusing, entertaining and informative, but I mostly find myself melancholy these days, reliving skating mom life a bit like Eleanor Rigby.
I suppose it would be even more difficult if I were still going to the rink daily. I'm more than four years past that stage. Now, I work. I sit at my computer watching posts on the upcoming competitive season and knowing it is our last ride. I watch programs of other competitors who are now friends and who I admire tremendously. I know this is their last year, too. I know how their families are feeling. It's a universal truth: The end is the end. Like death and taxes, and a final curtain call at the close of a long running show, it comes whether we want it to or not. Life moves on, like Gail Sheehy's "Passages."
Please don't think I'm totally maudlin about this. I'm not. In many respects, I am happily handing in my last E Ticket. But after 24 years, it does make me think about everything I've learned - and all there still is left to know about this oddly addicting mind freeze called "figure skating."
When we began, figures were still being competed. Now, they're gone. Now you have:
Moves in the Field (I didn't know you could skate in a field except in winter).International Judging System; Program Component Scores; Technical Element Scores and Transitions
(I thought you ALWAYS had to have those, but perhaps not..)
Grades of Execution
("Dead is Dead," right? Didn't know you got graded for this until 10 years ago)You need a Masters Degree just to know where your kid stands (or falls) in the world order.
The other thing I've discovered after all these years is that I don't know who anyone is any more. My skating world is rather insular. The rising cream obscures the churning liquid beneath, the foaming levels beneath the surface readying themselves for a rise. I find myself paying attention to the really young ones - Pre Juv through Intermediate. They are the future that interests me. I'm not saying there aren't wonderful Novice and Junior skaters, but to a great degree they still have one foot in the quagmire. The young Princes and Princesses, they are the ones without boundaries. They are the ones with the young coaches who came up through the "New System" and who are really pushing the envelope of creative and athletic skating. Frankly, it is what really excites me.
So, I'm (relatively) silent - for now. The season is about to begin. It will be whatever we make of it. It will be whatever our skater makes of it. No matter what, it will be one hell of a last ride. Hopefully, as we crest that last hill, the view will be the Black Sea, palm trees and snow. The ultimate dichotomy: Sochi awaits. No matter what, Amazing Awaits.