On December 2nd, 1994 I was invited to go roller skating with my friend Shane on what seemed like a random Friday night after work. I was still in my work cloths when he arrived to see if I wanted to go. He had a car load of people whom I had come inside while I changed. When I came back down I had grabbed my camera and snapped this shot of the group.
This is one of the earliest pictures I've taken for which I still have a copy. That night at the (now nonexistent) Crescent Beach Skating Rink I had my first true introduction to roller skating. While I had gone once or twice before it was this night that I decided I was actually going to learn to skate. Everyone else could skate proficiently, and while I could propel myself in a circle around the floor that was about it. At a time in my life where I had very few friends (most of whom were 800 miles away) roller skating once a week became the one of the only things I look forward to. While I'm sure those in this picture didn't know it at the time, they changed my life that night. In the months that followed I became more closely acquainted with them, and their friendship gave me something I had almost none at the time: a feel of acceptance. I've found that good people often help others simply by being themselves, and usually have no idea what important contributions they make to other's lives. I am very grateful for the ones who have been in my life.
Roller skating became a staple of my life for many years and I went almost religiously every weekend. Most of the major milestone were obtained in a month or two. When I did go to a skating rink I was there to skate. I was almost always on the skating floor, and a couple hours at a time I did learn how to skate. I became quite proficient although how good I am is relative and hard to quantify. I've skated in several states at many different rinks and I always enjoy critiquing a new floor. When I use to travel regularly for work, I liked to find a rink near by. All of my recent road trips have included a stop at a skating ring or two.
At most rinks, like Fountainblue Skating Arena in New Cumberland, Pennsylvanian; Gresham Skate World in Gresham, Oregon; or Crystal Palace Skating Center in Las Vagas, Nevada; I'm one of the few who can skate proficiently at all.
I was once kicked out of a skating rink in Philadelphia for skating backward. I was attempting to support a friend who could barely stand on skates, and the tough guy owner was all attitude and authority. When I called him out, I was thrown out. Not having anything to loss and never one to back down in the face of an authoritarian I wasn't quite on my way out. I remember him commenting “keep talking” and so I took him up on the offer and threw verbal insults at him all the way to the door.
Other than the Skate Nazi of Philadelphia I've never had a problem anywhere I've skated. Once in Indianapolis I was patted down before an adult skate night. In Nebraska I saw a young girl break her wrist and no one seemed to have a clue about what procedure to follow. In Monroe, Wisconsin I kept running into the back wall. It was painted black and the rink was much smaller than I was use to. At the Franklin Skate Club, in Franklin, Indiana I met some of the best skaters I've ever seen. It was at a small random rink and not something I wasn't expecting. Several of them were doing things I've never seen anywhere else, even still some 8 years latter. Impressive, especially since it seemed there was nothing special about this place at all. Even the guys at the very competitive rink I visit in Denver had nothing on the people of Franklin, and they treated skating like it was a sport to be mastered to win.
These days I don't skate nearly as often and go through periods of staking regularly or hardly at all. But it is interesting to think about how long I have been at it.