Dancing on Wheels, Remembering Dad
There's a roller skating rink in town that the kids like to frequent. It's typical of roller skating rinks around the country, I imagine. It certainly resembles the one I practically lived at from ages eleven to fourteen. A relatively non-descript building with worn carpets and faded paint. The disco lights flash faded color over the walls and scarred oval wooden floor. Music blares at deafening volumes through dyspeptic speakers. Bored expressions grace the faces of pimply teenagers employed to admit entrance and serve watery soda and greasy pizza to groups of rambunctious rolling kids and anxious parents.
Birthday parties are common events within the walls of these relics and I imagine that much of their income is funneled through that channel. These candy and soda filled events on wheels are staged in the cafeteria like setting that is broken into sections by half walls. These particular walls are covered in the most electrifying sickly lime green color I have ever seen. It's amazing this color does not cause seizures upon first notice. I have to sit, in the similarly electric orange bench seats, with my back to the walls, as the color is truly an affront to my eyes.
It was sitting with my back to these walls while the birthday party kids were skating round and round when my attention was captured by the tall, broad man with dark hair, dancing on black roller-skates. He gracefully wove in and out of the crowd, light on his eight wheels while confidently switching feet to glide his way along the oval. As he moved so effortlessly past me, I stood up to watch him skate. Suddenly I was 11 years old again and it was my father gliding across a different oval wooden floor, graceful and smooth on his black roller-skates. Whenever Dad tied the laces and stood up to take those first gliding rolls onto the floor it never failed to amaze me how elegant and flowing his movements were for such a tall man. He taught me how to roller skate and the fact that I could never pull off the ease and comfort he exhibited on wheels always pissed me off. But seeing some strange man, who resembled a younger version of my father, acutely reminded me how much I loved to see him skate and the joy I saw on his face as he literally danced on wheels across the floor under the dim colored lights.
It's been eighteen months since Dad died but sometimes unexpected memories come shooting in like a laser and the pain is a fist to the heart. I still expect to see him come stroll through my front door with his deep rumbly voice calling out "Hey Babe" as he makes his way to the sofa to sit and ruffle the dog's ears.