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February 15, 2002: The ankles beg to differ

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There is an ice rink in this town where I work now. I'm not sure how old it is - I've not lived here in nearly 15 years, so it could have gone in any time in the last few decades. But I hadn't realized it was here until today, when a coworker noted that they've got a program there during lunchtime. For a small fee, they'll provide the skates, coffee and munchies, and an instructor, all in a blissfully uncrowded and childfree atmosphere.

I didn't hesitate when she asked if I wanted to come. I remember ice-skating when I was a child, and then sporadically over the years once we moved to warmer climate and the only available rink was too far to drive on a regular basis.

I laced my skates on tight, remembering at least to do that much, and then tentatively stepped onto the ice. At least my one fall of the afternoon was early on, and only my dignity was bruised, nothing more.

It was slow going at first as I tottered around the ice, occasionally clutching at the wall to regain my balance. But then, after a few turns around the rink, I could feel it starting to come back to me, and I began to pick up speed. It was clumsy and awkward, my blades scraping the ice and my feet wobbling, but I was skating.

The instructor gathered up the handful of us who admitted to being merely beginners, and had us do a few simple things. She even tried a backwards step that all but my coworker and I could do. The two of us tottered backwards, flailing our arms and laughing at each drunken swoosh of the skates as we inched our way toward the wall that seemed suddenly a lot further than it had been when we were facing the right way. But we did it - the backwards swoops in and out, and the skidding stops and the side-to-side sweep of skates - everything that the instructor showed us how to do. And suddenly I found just a little bit of grace again, even after so many years.

We headed back to work on feet that are unsure about being crammed into stiff boots on thin metal blades, and with thighs and calves that are not being the slightest bit quiet about reminding us that they haven't been used in quite this way in far too long. And we made plans to go again - perhaps once a week for now.

I liked that feeling of grace. I don't have it very often.

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