I haven't had a lot to say lately about skating. As a matter of fact, my last blog was in January. Friends have asked, "Aren't you going to keep writing?"
When I started this diary of a mad skating mom back in 2009, there was a lot to say, and I thought it was going to be more of a journal than an autobiography, of sorts. What happened some 308 pages later (yes, I know because I actually put my blogs into print) was a chronicle of experiences that amazed and astounded me. It was born out of a pressing need to let people know what it was like to be on this journey. It was cathartic to sit for hours on end, albeit in short bursts, and write about our exploits, observations, highs and lows. It was therapy.
But being on the outside looking in this year, I have to say I'm having a difficult time finding my voice. No "Go Alexander" has reverberated off the walls at competition from my husband. Nary a butterfly has flitted by begging for attention. Hyperbole has been left to other practitioners while I have stood silent sentry. (Okay, so that's a bit melodramatic but it sounded good.)
Bottom line: I've been trying to find my new new skating "identity." I went to St. Paul and found it incredibly awkward to be sitting in the center of the arena in the 7th row after 20+ years in my precious Lutz corner. I watched some inspired skating. I reconnected with a number of longtime friends and met some new ones that I've only interacted with on Twitter and Facebook. I spent a lot of time hugging, kissing and being part of a wonderful, quirky and slightly dysfunctional "family reunion." It felt as if I had donned a new wardrobe that was like a slightly ill-fitting suit; you know, the one where you like the look, but the pants are too short or the jacket too tight.
I know I've talked for a long time about switching from my best Erma Bombeck style of writing to channeling my other favorite and entertainingly caustic writer, Anthony Bourdain. No matter how I try, I'm finding it's not in my nature. Sure, I could take potshots at a LOT of things - and a number of people - in and around skating. I just can't bring myself to do that. For every time I get angry,frustrated and cynical, there are those times that I look back in utter disbelief that I've been given this gift and a chance to share it all with you.
Next week will be the end of the second Quadrennial - that's two years of the four between Winter Olympics. I know what it's like to be a parent going through this time. I was blessed (or cursed, if you count the boxes of consumed antacids) to do it twice. The anticipation is palpable. Expectations are sky-high. 2018 seems like it is as far away as another galaxy, and about as incomprehensible. It isn't. Believe me, I know. 2018 will become the number of seeming seconds before the Nationals that will determine our Olympic skating team for Pyeongchang. It's right around the corner, and while it will not mean another trip for me as a skating parent (though I hope to go as a volunteer), it is the year I will retire from my job and move into the next chapter of my life.
I suppose that is part of why I haven't had much to say. Life seems to be writing those chapters. At this point, I'm the annoying backseat driver who keeps trying to put the pedal to the metal or apply the imaginary break; in reality, I'm only along for the ride.To be brutally honest, that's what I've always been - along for the ride.
The other night I was watching PBS and there was a show on featuring folk and rock singers from the 60's. I was about to turn it off when out walked Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. I went to Chicago Latin School with Roger (then Jim). He was a senior when I was in 7th grade and he performed many times in class assemblies. Roger looked amazing and his voice still had a wonderful resonance to it. He started playing the iconic "Turn, Turn, Turn." Of course, in the 1960's the lyrics had another purpose behind them. However, now the words from The Book of Ecclesiastes made me reflect on where I am now in my life.
To those skaters, coaches and parents either at the start or nearing the end of your journey, I have only one thing to say: Enjoy the process and be kind to one another along the way. Skating is a difficult sport. Don't get caught up in what others may say about you on line or in print. Stay above it, if you can. Be the best athlete, coach and parent you can be because that's all you can strive for in life. Pay it back when you can; always pay it forward because that's an obligation you should have to everything in life. And when the time comes, decide how you want to be remembered by those around you. That's the only important thing.
So, please forgive me if I don't write as much any more. I won't stop, but it will be less frequent. It's a turn of events that was as inevitable as growing older - and hopefully wiser. Thank you for your understanding.