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I Want to Skate, but Probably Shouldn't...

Posted Feb 19 2009 5:28pm
Have been thinking about buying inline skates. Not your typical rollerblades (though that might be what happens) but I really wanted to buy these:

Aren't they neat? Yep, thats Cesar Millan from the Dog Whisperer, which we watch a LOT of in this house (I know you'll sleep better now that you know that little known fact about me).

See we have a long driveway. Driveway might not be the correct word, maybe road is more appropo. From cattle guard (one end) to front gate (other end) its a hair more than 1/4 of a mile. Its not a straight shot either, there are curves and other mini-roads jutting off from it and circling around. There's also a couple of inclines and a whole lot of reflectors down the middle of it (Hubby's OCD placed a reflector every 30 feet, so its lit up at night like an airport runway!)

I thought skating would be a fun way to share time with little D who tears around here on his bike, get some much-needed exercise, and just move my body and have fun. The trouble is that I owned rollerblades in my early 20s and, uh... well, how do I put this nicely without embarassing myself too much?... oh heck, there's no sense in keeping it from you. Here: I defied death not once, but twice on those things!

Let me set the scene for you: I was living alone in a quaint little apartment in the Montrose area of Houston. Across the bridge (Hwy59) behind my house, was the prestigious Rice U neighborhood with million dollar homes on beautiful tree-lined streets. I would always get home from work, change my clothes and walk around that neighborhood, oohing and aahing over the beautiful homes, gardens, and just calm and fantastically perfect neighborhood that I called my own (even though I really lived on the edge of it).

When my then-boyfriend bought me rollerblades, I remember him thinking out loud that it may not have been a great idea, considering my tendency toward clumsiness. To combat that, he bought me the whole Survival Kit to accompany the skates: you know, the knee pads, wrist pads, elbow pads and helmet... but hey! When you want to look calm, cool, and collected, you can't actually wear all of that! I only wore the wrist guards that would protect me from breaking my wrists when I fell. The rest? I tossed-

The thrill of blading was exhilerating to me when I was going straight. My problem from the very first moment on was stopping. I was deathly afraid of raising up my toe and putting down the heel brake. Truthfully I knew my own clumsiness and to put all my weight on one leg while the other lifted up to try and brake seemed out of the realm of possibility. I decided right away that I would anticipate far into the distance where I would stop and just slow down....way... down. OR, if I ran into a problem, I would just hop off the road into a grassy lawn and stop. I don't know, it sounded so good back then, but even now I'm wondering about my sanity... jump off the road and eat grass?

Well, I practiced day after day on my sidewalk in front of my house, scared to death of the road and moving traffic but after a couple of weeks of sidewalk games, I felt confined and wanted to strut my stuff on the road. In fact, I really really wanted to blade around the neighborhood behind my house where I normally walked. So, to be on the safe side I put on the knee pads and the helmet and started off across the bridge.

I must have looked like an idiot. I mean, I'm a very tall girl to start out with and then those skates put me about another 3-4 inches in the air. Imagine seeing this gangly mess of arms and legs flailing across a bridge! I am sure it made someone below's commute a funny one that afternoon. However, I made it across to smooth road and started blading.

I remember feeling the breeze on my face and I was probably going faster than I should have but I was kind of euphoric and lost in my own little world. Remember how I said that I would anticipate my stops long before they arrived and just slow down in time? Yeh, well.... I forgot. Panic set in as I realized that I was coming up on a stop sign and that traffic that was intersecting there had no stop! Whats worse, there was a brown station wagon coming up the road towards me, AND!... it appeared that if I didn't stop, I was going to hit... BAM!

Yep, I hit the moving station wagon.

Now, what are the odds? Thank God the station wagon was driving through a residencial neighborhood and going pretty slow. I have to think they had slowed way down, too, because they were cautiously watching this crazed rollerblader with an obvious death wish!

When I hit the side of their moving vehicle (back door of passenger side) I hit it with a thud and the car stopped at the same instant. I kind of slid down the car in a motion that felt like it was in slow-motion. I landed in a heap on the ground and was instantly embarassed and proclaiming, "I'm fine! I'm fine! No problem! Sorry for hitting your car! Gotta go!"

The people (it was a couple) stood there kind of in shock, stammering about driving me home and asking if I was hurt.... I don't remember anything except wanting to get home and away from the car and any people that may have seen my horrific blading display.

I made it home and the adrenaline rush of hitting a moving car passed and I started to ache. I looked down and my knees and shins were just pure red. A bloody, gravel mess... What was I thinking???

I put the skates away for awhile and didn't blade. But after a month or so, I wanted to try again. I figured that I had just been going too fast, and that the whole idea of slowing down to stop wasn't as good as hopping off into the grass. Plus, I would never, ever again skate so fast! I had learned my lesson (or so I thought). Plus, I was learning to actually USE the brake and it was starting to work for me.

So, I made my way across the bridge and skated for quite awhile. I was really doing much better than that last time when I hit a car. This time I was going slower, I was conscious of my speed, the activity around me. I felt much more in control of myself and knew exactly what to do in every situation. Despite having skated all over the other side of the neighborhood (initially on purpose), I must have been daydreaming because before long I found myself coming up to the Scene. You know, the stop sign. The Stop Sign!

This time I planned WAY in advance and told myself that the stop sign was coming and that I would have to stop. Just like last time, I could see that a car was coming and it would pass through the intersection at the same time as me (if I didn't stop). But this time, I was going to stop! I WAS GOING TO STOP!

In my half-panic, I forgot about the brake. Totally forgot that now I knew how to use the brake. The only thing I could remember was to hop off the road and onto the grass. So thats what I did. As the car was coming into the intersection and as I approached the stop sign, I hopped right off the road and into the corner lot's grassy front yard.

I didn't anticipate that hopping off the grass would still carry me forward, but whats that old science thing we all learned, "objects in motion tend to stay in motion"? Yeh, well, its true. I didn't stop on a dime when I hit the grass, though I did slow down considerably. Obviously skates don't work in grass, so I was kind of running/tripping forward, taking tall, awkward steps head first ... yeh... head first right into a tree.

Yep, I hit a tree. Like the first time, the car stopped to see if I was alright. I had hit a tree headfirst on the corner of the lot at the intersection and was sitting there in a stupor. I don't know if I blacked out- I really don't. One minute I hit the tree, the next minute there was a crowd of people around me. I seemed fine but my head hurt.

Thankfully I agreed that time to allow the car to drive me home rather than try to skate. I was in so much pain that I didn't care that I was getting into a stranger's car. Looking back they were pretty normal people, concerned about my welfare, but also trying hard to stifle their laughter.

Of course I was fine. Well, I suppose I was. Maybe I knocked some more screws loose in this head of mine, but I'm not worse for wear... and its been 12 years since that episode and I think I'm ready to try again....The third time's the charm, right? Either this time I'll skate without incident, or... I'll hit a cow!

Wish me luck!

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