There is nothing quite like failing a Figure Skating test at the age of 31 that catapults one back to being the last picked for kickball.
Despite getting ballet lessons when I asked for figure skating as a child, I decided at 31 I was not dead, it was never too late and off I went, “the beginning of me.”
Group lessons gave way to private, and ice dancing became my passion when I had a lesson with a visiting coach from Russia. “Why you so clumsy,” he queried upon delivering me back to coach Marie.
I practiced the Dutch Waltz doggedly for my upcoming test. The only thing I remember of that debacle was my coach not looking at me and me forgetting the steps.
Crushed but undaunted, I shook it off and made a whole new plan for the next one. Take two tests, that way if I failed again, I had a shot ten minutes later to pass the other. I had a competition dress made and formed a life long bond with Marie my coach, but none of this helped my anxiety.
The day before the test, Marie said, “As your friend, I am telling you, you do not have to do this. Nothing is worth putting yourself through this.”
But I refused to bail, not after she and I had become so close and she had worked so hard, but I was a mess, just like the time before.
On test day, I donned my new skating frock, and lucky bra; I applied my make up, did my hair and threw up before setting off to the rink and another failure. As I pulled out of my driveway, this song came on the radio and it all melted away in the first strains of that song.
When I got there, I told Marie, “Just look at me, look at me when you put me on the ice, I need you to keep looking at me.” My test partner was another coach and I wasn’t even aware of him at that point I just locked onto her eyes and held her gaze. I craned my head to see her as I skated away to redemption. I ask you now, whom do you really think I was skating with that day?