Sunday afternoon I had the joy of teaching one of my friend's three boys how to ice skate. I've probably taught at least a couple hundred kids how to skate. Hockey coaches do that. After the boys got tired I had a chance to be alone with my blades and the cold rink air.
It all comes back to me when I'm on the ice. The memories are still very vivid. I have coached many games in that rink, standing on the bench looking down at that sheet of ice. Now for the first time I was just skating on it. I took a minute to stand on the ice in front of the visitors bench and I could still see the gloves and sticks scattered on the ice after my team won a tournament there. I could see another team getting killed and wondering how much longer it would be before the period would end and I could go home and enjoy the 24-hour waiting period before the parents could call and bitch about our lousy performance. Before I started skating again I though of the last words I always left in locker room after the final game of the season. I always said a personal goodbye to each player and then I would tell the team, "Teach someone to skate someday."
Then I went out and checked my stride. The first thing that goes when a hockey player ages is the length of their stride. I always get warmed up and then I count how many strides it takes to skate between the red line and blue line at full speed. The number was three. It has always been three. The distance between the red line and blue lines in North American dimensioned rinks is 25 ft.
The human body is a miracle. After I slowed down I was thankful not only for the muscles and ligaments that ballet has kept stretched but also for the ability to skate at my age. When I got home all the old hockey injuries ached a little. The left knee, the groin, and the right ankle all let me know that they were fifty-five years old.
I have a silly grin on my face right now. I guess I never grew up and I don't see it happening in the future. I found a 45-mm chrome X-Pole to set up at home (replacing the brass) and I'm all set to dance with Estee Zakar on Saturday afternoon. My dance partner wants me to try lyrical with her. She calls it sloppy ballet.
There is only now. Right now. I'm not saving anything.
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