Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strolling Down Memory Lane: The Tie That Binds

One of my favorite memories is tying skates - not mine, but my skater's. This was somewhat of a tradition that started about the same time as "right over left; left over right and round the world," which was the way I was taught how to tie laces.
The tradition of  tying skate laces at competitions lasted for probably too many years and, from time to time, became part of a subtle and  occasionally not so subtle form of motivation. First, there was the "Oh NO..they're running early! Sit down. Stop squirming PLEASE! They're calling your group!" skate tying. Then there was the "Oh NO..you're late! Sit down. Stop squirming PLEASE! They're calling your group!" skate tying - which was more the norm. And there was the "The session started five minutes ago and you're still not ready?" skate tying. 

Along the way, this morphed into more sophisticated forms of superstitions surrounding skate tying. Make sure the skates are polished and buffed to high gloss. Tie the left skate first, then the right. Tie the top hook. Don't tie the top hook. Turn around three times, throw your hands in the air, face East and pray. (Just kidding, though it felt like that at times.)

There were the requisite number of broken laces, backup laces that were too short or too long; knots of all sorts including one that became a family joke, "I'm a frayed knot."

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my skater while he was having his short program choreographed. Private ice comes late at night when you're at the elite level. We were sitting in the lobby and I was watching as skates were S...L....O...W...L...Y put on. At the end of the session, I watched and waited (and waited, and waited) as skates were S...L...O...W...L...Y removed, meticulously dried and blades reverently blanketed in soakers; laces  were wound and all were stowed in a well-organized skating bag. As I marveled in this ritual, this rite of skate bag passage, I paced by the door whining quietly to myself:  
"The session ended 30 minutes ago.
I understand about cooling down and stretching.
I know blades need to be dried.
But it does it REALLY take this long to UNTIE skates??
It's way after Midnight.
I haven't been in a rink this late at night in YEARS!
I'm jet lagged and exhausted.
May we go back to your apartment now,  

Time, age and distance. 
They're a matter of degree.
But the memories - they will always be the tie that bind. 

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