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Adventures in Portland: Roller Skating April 24, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Tuesday night is 18-and-older night at Happy Wheels, the roller-skating rink in Portland. We were going to be in town for two Tuesdays, but the second Tuesday we already had a date with Louise at a wine-tastes dinner. So if I wanted to get my skate on, it had to be the first Tuesday.

I always have trouble gathering my motivation for evening events at the end of a long day. I know I’ll be glad when I get there, but the slightest push in the other direction can send me spiraling toward the couch. We went to that new Indian place for dinner to gain some spice and strength.

We’d gone skating here on our January trip—my first time skating in eight years. It was so crowded that winter night that getting onto the floor itself was a bit of a challenge, especially given my haven’t-skated-in-eight-years handicap. The faster skaters stay to the outside, making the theoretical on-ramp even more theoretical.

This time we got there early. I figured that if I got out there before the crowd, I’d be better off. And I was. But there weren’t quite as many people anyway.

The skating itself is quite meditative for me—just circling the rink, allowing myself to (guiltily) enjoy ’70s and ’80s pop music but loving it when something a bit more down and dirty starts to play. When the lights go down and the disco ball starts spinning, that circling merges with watching the floor pattern, bringing on a druggedlike state. Trippy.

One of the best parts for me is watching people who can really skate—and there are lots of them. I am very good at going forward. Many people there, most 10 to 15 years older than I, are phenomenal skaters, having started as kids in the 1950s and ’60s and never stopped. These people are fast, and these people can dance. There also seems to be a contingent of great skaters about 15 years younger than I, whom I assume are the phenomenal-skater offspring.

Most everyone there still skates on roller skates, with only a few on in-lines. All the good people, of course, have their own beautiful skates. I believe we rental rubes truly stand out and are not to be taken too seriously—perhaps even given wide berth.

Skating invariably makes me nostalgic for people I used to skate with, and that night I was thinking a lot about Cheryl, my dear middle-school buddy who spent lots of rink hours with me.

Tim and I hold hands during couples only. I try to not let him spin me out of control.

We skated for 90 minutes, leaving an hour before the session was over. It was a school night, we’d had an excellent amount of fun, and we were happy to avoid the mass exodus.

We stepped out into the parking lot and the cool night air. Peeeeent! we heard, almost immediately. A woodcock! My first of the season. We ran to the edge of the lot, which opened into a dark swampy field, hoping to hear the crazy sound of his spiraling display (much more impressive than mine toward the couch). He didn’t call again. But showing off and trying to get laid is a respected roller-rink tradition. That woodcock was in good company.


1. Bridgett - April 24, 2008

Peeent indeed.

2. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - April 24, 2008

I have never been able to roller skate. I have never even been able to stand up on roller skates.

When I was ten or eleven, I wanted to take ice skating lessons. Since I was not one of those kids who had a lot of outside interests, my parents were quite pleased. I was less pleased when I saw the other kids in my beginners’ class: they were generally five to seven years of age. And they could already skate better than I could.

I stuck with it for two classes, a full year’s worth. I tried on some ice skates a few years ago, and could still stand up, but I sincerely doubt I could maneuver across the ice without doing severe damage to myself, others, or the ice itself.

I have not, to the best of my knowledge, ever heard a woodcock. (How much wood does a woodcock…never mind.)

3. Cedar Waxwing - April 24, 2008

I love this — especially the surprise woodcock ending.

My first date was rollerskating. Disaster!

4. Mali - April 24, 2008

The way you are able to link the joys of skating and hearing the woodcock to such a great ending – masterful!

5. Helen - April 24, 2008

Were you and Tim the good company?

6. bettyslocombe - April 25, 2008

Vermont is so old school: maple syrup; roller skating; things that go ‘peeent’; how could you ever live anywhere else?

7. Deloney - April 25, 2008

Indigo in her element — roller skating and writing about roller skating.

8. Susan - April 25, 2008

Oh, what fun! I was a roller-skating FIEND when I was 13. Tried it again in my thirties and still loved it. I’d probably be skating still (and having my knees, hips and a few other things replaced) if there was a facility nearby. Skate on, IB!

9. indigo bunting - April 25, 2008

SY: Fascinating account. I am always learning new things about you. Did you check out the woodcock recording?

H: I’ll just let you wonder…

Betty: Sadly, the roller skating is a 5-hour drive from me in Maine. I imagine there must be a rink SOMEWHERE in Vermont. I just wish there was one within a half hour’s drive.

Susan: I can easily imagine this.

Everyone: Thanks. I hope to soon post more adventures.

10. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - April 26, 2008

Oh my goodness. I most certainly HAVE heard woodcocks before! I can’t recall ever seeing them, but I’m not one to go rooting around in the brush. But yes, that peeeeent! is terribly familiar, as is the chittering that followed. Thank you so much!

What is the aural equivalent of a sighting? Does it go on your Life List if you’ve only heard them? (I’ve never seen a Barred Owl that wasn’t shackled to its perch, but about a month before I left Vermont I heard two of them calling to one another across a little valley.)

11. indigobunting - April 27, 2008

Sewa: It can go on your life list if you’ve only heard them, if those are the rules you have made for yourself. Some birders count that, some don’t.

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