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New Memoir Tuesday! This weeks challenge: Your assignment this week is based on rhythm, which you can use to help entertain and engage your readers. Let’s make it more literal. Write about a time that rhythm, or a lack thereof, played a role in your life. And don’t use the word “rhythm.” Maybe it’s a time that you danced to a special song. Maybe it’s a period of your life during which the days were marked by a distinct pattern. Or maybe it’s a time that you couldn’t catch your breath because life just kept coming at your randomly. It’s up to you. Let’s see if you can convey that rhythm using your writing, and not the word itself. Word limit is 600. Come back here Tuesday and link up!

 

All I know about ice skating is what I’ve seen on TV during the Olympics, and that I am being dropped off for my first lesson. My best friend Kirsten is with me, her brand new white leather skates tied and hung over her shoulder. I shove open the door and the scent of ice, sweat and cheap fast food, hits me hard. The floor is covered with interlocking, black, tar tiles on which people are walking in their skates with a lumbering, side-to-side gait with slightly bent, knocked knees for balance. I trade my shoes for blue plastic rental skates, resenting Kirsten’s white leather ones with each tightening of my laces. I stand up and it feels not as awkward as it looks.

People warming up on the ice and following their lead, I head to the edge of the rink. There are a number of kids my age, and I watch as they step on to the ice, wobble for one second and then push, taking off. I place my left skate on the ice and push off using my right toe pick. Magically, my body does the rest.

Continuing to spy on the kids in front of me, I see that as the bend comes up they lean slightly towards the center of the rink and cross one leg over the other, push, lean, cross, glide, uncross, push, lean, cross, glide, uncross. Once around the bend, on the straight away, the skaters break down into two groups, they either straighten up, slowing their speed, some working on fancy footwork, or they lower their upper bodies above bent knees and push out hard with their legs gaining speed and getting so low that the hand closest to the center of the ring will be able to touch the ice as they take the next bend.  These skaters have a fierce and snarling joy on their faces and I follow them, imitating them, struggling like the runt duckling.

I get behind the last of these skaters, I don’t want trip anyone and I try to follow their every move, straining, getting lower to the ice, pumping, pushing, bending the knee, pulling it back in, and pushing out again. I marvel at how all of their legs are in sync and how close together the front of the pack is. As soon as the curve of the bend is behind them the skaters straighten up and slow themselves down to a stop.

“That was awesome!” I shout.

The tallest of the group who I now see is the instructor turns around, “Who are you?”

“Jennifer!”

“What class are you here for?”

“1st level figure skating.”

“I think that your class is over there,” he says pointing to a group of kids, many of whom are already on their butts. Kirsten is standing at the edge of the group, awkward as a flamingo caught in an ice storm with her mouth hanging open.

“Oh,” I say disappointed. It is only now that I notice that this group of skaters wear skates different from mine.

“Well, thank you,” I say as I shove off towards the instructor that is coming for me with a slightly surprised look on her face.

When I reach her she asks, “Have you really never ice skated before?”

“No, never.”

But I would for years, taking myself to the ice and letting my legs fly, my breath sync and the sound of sharp blades cutting edges on hardened water ease my preteen self back to whole.

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