A former teenage author turned twenty and her stabs at writing life and living to write.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Skating with Mom

Sun Valley was my childhood refuge; a summer escape that meant forever wearing your swimsuit and smelling of sunblock and chlorine. It meant leaving school, leaving friends, leaving home and taking the family somewhere they could spend time alone together. It meant the strains of violins and thundering trombones catching our ear as we ate dinner on the deck, shoes off and plates in our laps as the symphony warmed up for their evening performance. It meant blueberry skies that stretched for miles as we hiked, as we walked, as we biked beneath them. It meant the familiarity of returning to the same haunts every year, ones that measured me as I grew taller, as I grew stronger.

I had friends there as a child; the old park behind the staff dormitories, the ducks and swans that frequented the pond outside the Inn doors. The cold stream that ran behind the village shops; my feet would numb as I absentmindedly squished the mossy bottom between my toes. Every year as we returned, the oak trees outside our window grew taller; majestically so. They seemed to protect our annual retreat, and as the imaginative eight year old I was . . . they were ceremoniously named. I know I named one of Herbert (I was strangely fascinated with that name at the time), but I can't remember the other. Either way, I fancied those trees my watchdogs, seeing that we returned every year; noticing the changes in who we'd become in the last twelve months. I'm sure they took notice of my vastly changing hairstyles, the year I finally accepted tomatoes into my diet, the unnatural amount of purple in my wardrobe. I imagined them noticing the years my brothers left on missions, or when my sister stayed back at home to be with her boyfriend.

They watched the year mom came in a wheelchair, and then not at all. That year I stopped imagining the trees altogether.

My first steps taken on the ice were at the skating rink behind the lodge when I was three years old. And those steps were the beginning of a deep-abiding love. And while I could never quite call myself the expert skater, sliding across the ice with the wind lapping at my lips felt like the truest form of freedom. I would glide, then fall. Get up again, and glide some more. Try to spin and crash to the ice. Pat my bruising kneecaps and try again. With my mom on the sidelines cheering me on; clapping at every successful jaunt around the rink and helping me up after every crash. And while I can never remember her ever tying up laces of her own and joining me, she was always there. Always present. Front and center; allowing me to take lessons, watching the Olympic skaters performing their twists and tricks. I'd stare up in amazement, wondering how anyone could turn and jump and waltz with such grace. Mom would only smile and tell me I could be just as amazing as they were. "You can be anything you want to, Laura".

I went back to Sun Valley this Thanksgiving, and it's still the same beautiful place. Blueberry skies and frosted peaks. My nieces and nephews wanted to go ice skating with me on Friday, and I was more than happy to take them. But I had to do something first. So that morning while everyone else was busy with other things (mostly rousing themselves from a turkey coma), I left the room to walk down the road, lace up my skates, and take to the ice alone. Partly because the silence of the cold morning air and freshly sharpened blades cutting through the ice is beautiful. Partly because I'm older now and don't always believe I can be anything I want to be. All I seem to find lately in my life are roadblocks and height requirements I don't live up to. But mostly because my mom was there and I wanted to skate with her; with her and every version of my childhood self that has slid across that icy rink.


1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful and well said! You are an amazing writer and I am glad you can feel Mom when you skate. I know she loves you and is proud of you! Love you - Jen