Like, immediately. It was a completely random ice skating emergency.
I have no idea why this break with normal life happened. It’s just that I was so tired of being tired, of laundry and Tylenol and screens and I needed LIFE. Real life with capital letters and the kind that you can fill your lungs with. And everyone was running around looking for pants and Phil was asking if there was time for a shower and I was like, “… a shower?! Are you mad?! We have to go!” He looked genuinely afraid and said he was still going to shower, but really quickly. I silently promised myself right then and there I would never ever forgive him for being so selfish and not understanding my sense of urgency.
I bundled everyone and stuffed us in the car, grabbed the camera and the diaper bag and the keys and slammed the door. Phil asked if they served coffee at the rink. COFFEE? We are having a LIFE emergency cloaked inside an ice skating emergency and he is asking about coffee. Intolerable.
We drove to the outdoor rink silently. Dylan was mad at Ruby and Ruby was mad at Dylan because these are the roles they are fated to play in life. I think the baby was stunned into silence by the speed with which she had been dressed and placed in the car. Particularly since she hadn’t left the house in two weeks. I wasn’t speaking to Phil, obviously. And Phil was not speaking to me, either because he was angry, desperately in need of coffee, too afraid, or some combination of all of the above.
We arrived at the rink and it was already bustling with skaters. Tucked in the middle of the city, they offered free skates and your last chance to hear Christmas music on December 27th. The kids were nervous. Somehow at five and seven we’d never taken them before. And me? Well after all my bluster about needing to go and skate and live and be free and don’t be afraid – TRY! You can do it! I got scared. I remembered I hadn’t been on skates in 20 years and I hid behind the baby and said I clearly couldn’t because I needed to stay with her. Also, somehow the ground was much farther away than it used to be.
So my amazing husband and son and daughter, still wiping the sleep from their eyes, gingerly stepped on to the ice. It had been years for Phil too, but that wasn’t going to stop him. And the kids? Well they fell. They fell a lot. But the most amazing thing happened. They kept getting up. All of those moments when I had lectured them about not quitting and the power of persistence? They were actually listening! Or just really determined to figure out how to skate.
Eventually Phil glided off and I reluctantly stuffed myself into a pair and went out there with them. They took off without me like they’d been skating forever and deep down somewhere inside of me the nine year old version of myself took over and remembered sort of how to do this. Sort of. It wasn’t pretty. If anyone remembers that episode of Friends where Phoebe tries running? It sort of looked like that, but on skates. But it didn’t matter because I skated as if life was actually meant for living and not for scowling and fearing. And there was music and joy and wild laughing as we fell and skated and even briefly they let me hold their hands. It was amazing. Actually it was better than that. It was capital letters AMAZING.
And when we walked back through the park to our car I actually reached out to hold my husband's hand. Right there in the middle of the city, in the middle of winter, an unexpected late December thaw was upon us. With it came the promise of cooler heads and warmer hearts.