Jan 1, 2010

My Speed Skates

I cleaned up my speed skates today. They were dusty and unused. Most people my age no longer have theirs. They were relegated to the Good Will pile long ago, or perhaps given to a younger cousin or sibling that would never really appreciate the true meaning of having a pair of speed skates. We were part of a brief period of time, 1978 - 1981. The heyday of roller skating. Of course it was "Skatin'" in Charlotte.

Nothing was more important to me in 1980 than saving up enough money to buy a pair of Riedell Speed Skates. See my parents split up in 1980, and I stayed with my Dad in Charlotte. We were broke! Seriously, there was cheap food and no extras. Dad didn't have money to buy me all of the name brand clothes that I needed to stay with the "popular crowd". I had about 5 or 6 cool outfits and had to launder them on a very regular basis!

But on Friday night, the kids that had speed skates were the coolest of the cool. After 6th grade your reputation could not stand to even don a pair of rental skates. So those unfortunate ones like me would hang at Skate Palace and borrow our friend's skates throughout the night. I wanted a pair so much!

In 1980, I was 11 years old and a pair was $120! I did some research and that is the equivalent to about $500 today.  My Dad told me if I could save half the money, he would buy the other half. I scrimped and saved for nine months. I rolled pennies and nickles and cashed them in at the bank up the street. I babysat and saved every penny that I could. I saved Christmas money and did extra chores around the house.

Finally, in February, I got my skates. I went with the classic black and white scheme - when I had been tempted to go with the red wheels, laces, and toe stopper. I am glad I went with the classics. They still look good.

I have kept them all these years because they remind me of that innocent time in my life. They remind me what it was like to be poor and have to wait and save for something. They were the first major purchase of my life and they taught me the value of a dollar. Most of all, I will never forget the pride I felt when I laced up those boots for the first time and headed out on the wooden floor with the disco ball spinning and Michael Jackson singing, "Off the Wall". I was finally one of the cool kids and I had earned those skates.

It didn't matter at that moment that my parents were split up and that they both were dating other people. It didn't matter that my butt had completely outgrown the rest of my body and that my face had started to break out. The only thing that mattered was I was free and I was young, and the whole world was ahead of me - I knew I was going to be just fine.