You're an 8
About a year ago, I had skated on an ice rink with my then boyfriend. It had been nighttime. It was a nice evening date in downtown Salt Lake City. He took photos of me. Of us. It was dark, and the festive lights blurred the photos. He held my hand. It was romantic, and the cold only made us huddle closer together. In the moment, it was a perfect date night. It was a date like in the movies.
When I look back and think about it some more, I can see the entire picture:
A year ago, I had worried about who was paying for what. The rink was overpriced for the fifteen minutes that we spent on it. At least a third of those fifteen minutes was spent taking photos of us on the rink. It was busy. Crowded. We skated in a circle with the rest of the sheep and the few outliers of experienced skaters who blazed past us and whizzed by every forty seconds or so. It was so cluttered, I felt like I had paid to slow dance with an entire crowd in an extra cold space. It was ice after all. My feet were uncomfortable, chilled, and numb. And the entire time I was wondering how long was an appropriate amount of time before we could walk off the ice without my date thinking he had paid too much for too little. In the end, he had asked if I was ready to go get food. I was relieved and said yes.
Yesterday when I had walked by the ice rink, the very ice rink I had skated on a year ago, I walked into the little shop and asked when people could start ice skating. I found out it was open already. The nice lady at the cashier said no one really started skating until four. She said anytime before then, the ice was mine.
I thought, Well hey. The ice rink will be empty tomorrow after I get off work early. I’ll have the entire ice rink to myself. I had invited some people; I told them about the awesome private ice skating rink I had discovered. I suppose no one was as excited as I was since today I had the entire floor to myself.
The whole Winter Is Coming theme had been nailing itself into my head this week. I had escaped the cold for a weekend by going rock climbing with friends in Southern Utah, and ever since Sunday night when we had gotten back, the cold just felt more bitter. My dread for the dropping temperatures was becoming a serious fear that made my heart drop into my stomach.
When I saw the ice rink, however, I decided it was time to embrace the winter I had signed up for. I zipped up both of my coats and tucked my scarf tighter around my neck and sore throat. (Yes, I have quite the cold at the moment.) But nothing was going to stop me from making a fool of myself on the ice. I plugged in my earphones to block out the music playing through the stereo and began skating.
At first I stayed close to the railing. It had been a year, and I had only ice skated about three times my entire life. For those of you who think it’s exactly like rollerblading, you are wrong. I finally felt comfortable enough to let go of the metal aid. I took liberties of being the only skater on the ice and began skating in any direction I pleased (all at about two miles per hour).
There was something right about being on the ice alone. I thought to myself, See? A year ago, you were with a boyfriend and thought you were happy, but the date was uncomfortable and artificially planned. It felt forced. And now here you are. Alone. And you can skate for five minutes or five hours. And you can go fast and maybe fall or you can go slow and hold on to the sides the entire time. This is you. A year later. Alone, independent, free, ice skating alone at two-thirty in the afternoon---
And then you skated by. Your laces were white and neatly criss-crossed up along your skates. Your neon jacket was bright and yet somehow so casual, kind of like how you were yourself. You skated around gracefully at first. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone. Suddenly, I forgot what I had been telling myself.
Before I knew it, my earphones were stuffed in my pocket and I was skating along in a circle despite having no herd to follow...And you were skating right next to me. You told me about your dream job. I told you about my regular job. You told me about your regular job. I told you about my dream job. You asked if I could skate backwards. I couldn’t. You told me to bend my knees. I did. I moved backwards. I almost fell. You told me to be careful.
You taught me how to point my skates to the side and carve a “C” into the ice so that I could twist and make a circle on the ice. When I told you what my favorite number was, you pointed out all of the things in view that existed in that number. When I told you that green was my favorite color, you asked what kind of green.
And then we talked more about being happy and being young and being sad and being poor.
And then you had to go. And you disappeared quicker than I had expected.
And I carved some “C’s” into the ice for a few minutes. And then I walked off the ice. And as I untied my shoelaces, I realized I didn’t know what your favorite number or color was. I only knew that you felt like you were an 8.