Hannah wanted to go skating for her birthday, so we took her and five friends to the local rink.
When I was young, I was a figure skater. I started when I was five, and skated like a fiend until I was thirteen. My sister and I were in two ice shows every year--The Nutcracker on Ice every December, and a big revue in the Spring. We also competed in local and regional competitions and came home with our fair share of ribbons and trophies. Skating was a huge part of my life; for a couple of years, we skated almost every day after school and some days before (for some reason, I have a very clear memory of waking up for an early session one morning, crumbling some chocolate chip cookies into cereal bowls for me and my sister, pouring milk over them, and telling my mom we were eating Quaker 100% Natural cereal. I recall thinking that the extra sugar would help give us more energy for our skating.)
Every session of skating club would start with an hour of figures (or "patch" as we called it, since each skater was assigned a patch of ice to practice our figure 8s). I enjoyed the hush of the rink during figures, the slice of the blades on ice, the whir of the scribe (the big compass that we used to trace circles on the ice that we'd try to follow with our blades--or that we'd use to measure how close to a circle we were able to get on our own.) After the quiet, focused hour, we'd change into our freestyle skates (which had different blades, with an extra toepick) for an hour of jumping and spinning and footwork, for practicing our routines, and working with our coaches, and going as fast as we possible could, the air cold and sharp in our noses, eyes watering, hair flying back like streamers.
I can't begin to do the double jumps and intricate spins of my youth, but getting on the ice still feels like home to me, like freedom. You can see my edges blurring in this picture, my skates edging me toward flight.