Winter, 1980. Outside, a miserable frigid wind is swirling in frantic circles, hoping to bite something warmer than itself. Brazen hillocks and patches of snow defy the cold sunshine.
Inside, it isn’t much warmer, but at least there’s no wind.
I’m wearing red, heart-shaped, Lolita sunglasses. The bright red feather boa wrapped around my neck is trailing behind me as I roller skate through the New York Armory’s trade show. I am draped with very cool, trendy, skinny, black ties embossed with pink flamingos and white dice, and I am handing out flyers advertising “Metal Impressions,” a very cool, trendy Brooklyn company owned and operated by my good friend and upstairs Park Slope neighbor, Barry. I have renamed him “Barrance,” not that there’s anything wrong with “Barry”—it’s just that “Barry” sounds like a derivation of something more formal, like, say, “Barrance,” which only exists because I have deemed that it should. Barry thinks his new name is brilliant!
Barrance has lent me a brand-new pair of electric-blue suede roller skates for this marketing extravaganza. The skates are a perfect fit and I shove off, tentative at first, but gaining confidence and momentum as the massive expanse of flawless concrete glides smoothly under my neon-yellow acrylic wheels. I feel seven feet tall, although the skates have only boosted me up to about 5’5.”
This is my dream job–getting paid to do what comes so naturally to me (smile, talk, laugh, skate, crash and fall, get up and do it again). As I recall, Barrance paid me handsomely to accompany him that day. I must not have been as broke as I remember, because I also recall trading the money I earned that day in order to keep the electric-blue suede skates, because, to tell the truth, I couldn’t live without them. The stride, the glide, the ride. This was moving on at its best!
As with most things we can’t live without, they are the first thing we pack when we move across the street, across the state, across the country, or across the ages. They are the first thing we unpack when we arrive. We put them high up on a shelf, not only to venerate them, but also to get them out of harm’s way, and we catch an occasional glimpse of them when we are rummaging around, searching for something mundane but more pressing. The urgency of our mission seldom permits us to linger too long on the sweetness of that vital piece of who we are or wish we were, but it’s comforting to know it’s still there, whenever we want it. The trouble is that we often forget it’s there because it’s totally obscured by the ever-proliferating clutter of our busy lives.
So what do I want now? Well, as much as I would love to put on those electric-blue suede skates, and speed down a hill only to remember that I never really learned how to stop without crashing into something, I really want to unclutter my life, divest myself of all these beautiful little treasures I have cherished for so long, and disencumber myself from being their custodian and keeper of the illusion that I will once again be young and skate around the Armory in Lolita sunglasses with a red feather boa with a funny, wonderful, laughing friend named Barrance.
It’s time to let it go so I can move on. There’s a tantalizing future out there, just waving around like a red feather boa, and if I’m going to grab onto it and let it pull me effortlessly through this gorgeous present of right now, I’m going to need both hands free.
First you stride, then you glide, then you ride.
This must be my dream job!
Photo Credit: My Electric-Blue Suede Roller Skates, by Gloria Talcove-Woodward