When I was little I was fascinated with roller skating. I think my love first came from when I watched Facts of Life and marvelled at how Tootie whipped around her dorm. I instantly wanted a pair.
My mom, however, was less than supportive; stating it seemed pointless to own a pair of roller skates while living on a farm, plus roller skates were way out of our family budget.
But every year for Christmas and my birthday, I would ask for a pair. After many years of asking, my mom finally agreed that once my feet stopped growing, she would get me some. I was around 10 at the time and it was agony that I was going to have to wait a couple more years.
But I waited.
Somewhere around the time I was 12 or 13, my mom, brother and I were at the locally owned sports store in High River looking to get my brother geared up for another season of hockey. Up high on a shelf, perched perfectly on the box they came in, were a pair of white figure skating boots, with cherry-red wheels attached to the sole.
I was in love.
I pulled my mom in the direction of the skates, telling her THESE were the skates I wanted when my feet stopped growing. My mom checked the price tag and she grimaced a bit. I don’t recall the price exactly, but I do remember they were over $50, but below $100. By today’s standards, that’s a decent price for a figure skating boot & wheels. But this was the mid 1980’s; we were just coming out of a recession and farmers were hit hard. Paying between $50 and $100 for a pair or roller skates that I would only be able to use in the house still seemed a little ridiculous to my mom.
Like an old-fashioned Canadian Tire commercial, I visited the skates every time we went to town. I don’t know if my mom got tired of my constant badgering or if she felt sorry for me looking all doe-eyed at a pair of roller skates, but one day while in the store she gave permission to try them on.
I remember my mom wanting me to go a size up just in case my feet grew. So I slipped my size 7 feet into the size 8 skates and instantly felt diva. I had no idea how to roller skate, so I clumsily shuffled around the store to try and guage the fit. We took them home that day as an early birthday present.
The rest of my summer consisted of me rolling from one end of the house to the other. Eventually dad poured concrete into the machine shop so my rolling opened up a bit. I had zero technique, zero training. I ate in them; I watched TV in them. Eventually my feet grew into a perfect size 8 and the boot formed around my foot.
My skates followed me for many years. Any opportunity to visit grandparents who lived in town meant a chance for me to skate around the neighbourhood on streets and sidewalks. Unfortunately, my outdoor skills sucked, never having to navigate gravel, debris and curbs. As I moved into high school, I still held onto my skates even after the fad of roller skating turned into inline skating.
I moved away for college and my skates stayed safely tucked away at my parent’s farm in still relatively pristine condition, short of wear on the rubber toe-stop.
During my college years, friends all around me were inline skating. I tried inline skating sometime after graduating from college… and hated it.
Sad and lonely in storage at the farm but not forgotten, I pulled my skates out of storage a few years ago and started skating again. My technique was and still is still sketchy, but I’m happy to be skating with a purpose now.
The downside is after only a few weeks of training, the beloved skates I’ve owned for over 20 years are finally starting to show their wear. Scuffs and scrapes are quicklyappearing on the toes of my leather boots from skidding
over concrete and I’m afraid to ruin one of the few items I’ve kept from my childhood. Soon I’ll be faced with the decision to either duct tape the crap out of them to avoid further shredding, or bite the $200+ bullet and get a sexy new pair of Riedells.