So I wandered off to

So I wandered off to wrap my head around it.

I went into the bathroom and closed the door to prepare for a cat-free bath, when I stopped cold. Dammit! That’s what I always do. Escape to “think about it.” Run off to some impotent fantasy about what I want to be instead of going out and becoming it. Ruminating about what I want to do instead of doing it. Screw that. No bath for me.

I changed shoes and grabbed some things I needed from the bedroom, then I stomped out into the night. About a half-mile north I found what I needed. A business complex had installed a nice little perk for their employees–about fifty yards of boardwalk right on the river, lined with a waist-high railing, dotted with attractive benches.

I paced that boardwalk three times, terrified. I went through a half-dozen dire scenarios, from losing my glasses in the river to getting caught by a security guard. It all came down to one thing: I knew if I didn’t do what I’d come here to do, I would hate myself forever. Resolved, I sat down on one of those attractive benches and strapped on my skates.

I’ve had the skates for two summers. I tried to use them once or twice, but couldn’t overcome my fear of falling. It’s such a long way to fall. I used to ice skate years ago. I was fearless. I was into speed–careening between other skaters, falling, laughing, sliding twenty feet on my chin. I don’t know what happened between then and now. Maybe I went too many years without a good bruise. Maybe I just got complacent. Thirty-something hit, and fear had stealthily taken over. I hated myself for that fear.

So I bought rollerblades, thinking I’d get right on them and everything would be good. I chose a low-traffic park with a smooth path and little to hold on to. Not a great idea in retrospect. I didn’t fall, but I didn’t get far either. Into the closet with the skates.

Tonight was different. I’d had enough of being afraid. I thought maybe I’d even throw myself to the ground, just to prove I could fall. I didn’t do that. I did skate. I even learned to turn a little, though the brakes still have me baffled. That waist-high railing was key. It’s like the wall of the skating-rink that you cling to the first 20 minutes on ice. I skated until my shins were on fire (if you’ve ever done blades, you know what I mean). I skated more tonight than I have since I bought the blades.

As for the railing…eventually, I let go. Tomorrow night, maybe I’ll fall.

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