Tuesday, January 12, 2010

You Put Your Left Foot in, You Put Your Left Foot Out

Shoes: what girl doesn’t love them? I am, of course, no different, however my taste has seemed to change wildly over the years: from sneakers to vintage platforms to heels to platform heels to flats. Yet, there’s one pair of shoes that I’ve always come back to for the past 16 years: a pair of red and black wingtip mary-jane Docs.

There are so many reasons I like these shoes, but until now I haven’t consciously attempted to articulate them. I guess I like them because they just feel right. I wear them pretty much every day to work, and I’ve also been known to wear them with jeans on my day off or with a skirt and tights. No matter what I’m doing or what is going on in my life, these shoes fit, and I love that about them.

Sometimes I don’t take care of them as well as I should. For instance, right now they could really use a polish. I’ve known this for a while, and I’ve meant to do it, but I just haven’t gotten to it.

Sometimes the elastic attaching the buckles wears and breaks, and I’ve gone the remainder of the cool months not ever taking the shoes to get fixed. Sometimes more than a year goes by. Sometimes it’s only several weeks. Over the years, I’ve put $80 of repairs into this pair of $85 shoes. I obviously love them, yet every few years I feel like I should abandon them and find something new – more modern and more like what I think I should be wearing today – but I always come back. Who am I kidding?

Ah, how shoes and derby are so much alike!

This winter I did the same thing with derby as I do to these shoes: I put derby on a shelf and told myself that it was time to get something new – to do something else – but every day was torture.

I didn’t realize until I came back to work from an 11-day vacation (which was preceded by a 14-day vacation three weeks earlier) that derby was my love. Over the past five years I’ve made it through the daily grind by telling myself that it doesn’t matter if I don’t love my job, because I love derby. Then I came back and realized I no longer was doing anything I loved. I made the mistake of mentally trying to put a greater emphasis on my job, but that only made me feel worse. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great job that really uses my talents well, but I don’t love it like I do derby.

The past few months have been torture. I’ve been thinking a lot about other things I want to do in my life (write for $, garden), and it’s hard because I’ve made derby my entire life for close to five years now. I left no room for anything else, and part of me feels like I backed myself into a corner. In a perfect world, I’d win the lottery and not work, but unfortunately life doesn’t work like that. So what else do I have to barter for time? Derby.

I made the decision early this winter to not try out for the All Stars this year. The impetus for this was a winter and spring full of publishing conferences that would have me already traveling once a month and taking up my time on weekends. There’s just no way I can work this, and part of me thought “If I can’t play with the All Stars, then I don’t want to play with anyone”. Luckily, when I tried to quit my home team for the second time last Friday, my captains said “Too bad – we’re keeping you on the roster”. I think it was their second refusal that made me think this was a sign that I need derby in my life. I gave in and decided at that point that I would commit to the 2010 home season. And I’ve been happy about it ever since.

I’m spoiled and I know it. I want everything, and I don’t like being told no, but I think I’ve learned a valuable lesson that I don’t have to view life (or derby) as all or nothing. It’s easy for me to go balls out or retreat completely. My main goal for 2010 is to live a more balanced life, and although I fought against myself for the past few months, I think I’m finally on the right road.

While I spend derby focusing on our home season with Speed Regime, I’m also going to be focusing on doing some other things I’ve wanted to do. This year I want to plant a small garden, and I want to bring several articles and story ideas I’ve started writing, but never really dedicated enough time on, to fruition. And although this is the hardest part, I’m going to try and not feel bad about doing what I ultimately want to do instead of what I think I should do.

Looking at my shoes this morning reminded me that it’s okay to love something that doesn’t always make sense and it’s also okay to put something on the shelf for a while and come back to it after you try something new.

It’s going to be difficult to view a community I’m so used to being a part of from the outside (the All Stars), but I’ve got to know that compromise hurts less than regret. And at least I’ve found a way to work that thing I love back into my life while I continue to grow and find other things I love too.


Ruthie said...

Great post. For some skaters, derby is life and life is derby, but for most of us, it can't be. Keeping things in perspective is key.

Megan said...

I'm so proud of you, girl!! You'll be great at anything you put your heart into.

Megan said...

I'm so proud of you, girl! You'll be great at anything you put your heart into.

Haren Mahkeester said...

Glad to hear your back on skates!! hope to see more posts on your blog now that you're derby-ing again!!