Tuesday, November 30, 2010
My decision to retire from derby wasn’t an easy one, but even as I sit here now reflecting on my first practice in 9 months, I realize that for better or worse I made the right decision. I desperately needed a break so I could insert some semblance of balance back into my life. I desperately needed to hand off (once and for all) various derby duties I had needlessly accumulated. I desperately needed to get some new hobbies. I desperately needed to spend time with my family. And, last but not least, I desperately needed the time away from derby to realize that whether I’m actively skating or not, my life is so abundantly enriched by being a part of derby that being a part of it is something I actually want to do now and in the future.
Last night I attended my first derby practice since last February, and I while I was exceptionally nervous going into it, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. When I walked in, it was partially as if I’d never left. With the people I knew, I picked right back up where I left off it seemed (except they kept asking me how I was doing throughout practice, which was nice). It was like coming home for the first time after having gone away to college or moving out of your parents’ house; it’s familiar, but there is something odd about being there as well.
The one thing I could not get over last night was how heavy my skates felt – I literally got lower leg cramps just from wearing my skates for the first hour. My endurance? Shit. Absolute and total shit. However, I was happy to find out that I hadn’t lost many of the skills and moves I’d worked so hard to learn – thank you, muscle memory! My legs hurt today, but it’s a good kind of hurt – it reminds me that with enough hard work I can do or be whatever I want. I still have a long road ahead of me to build up my endurance and sharpen my skills, but I’m happy to be on that road. In fact, I think for me that’s all I ever really need out of life: direction. I’m at ease when I have a general idea of where I’m going.
So, what are my goals for the coming year? Balancing derby with the rest of my life, and to satisfying my highly competitive nature by jamming on a home team would be divine. I need to be realistic in my time constraints, which unfortunately preclude me from aspiring to return to the All Stars, but at least I know that. God so help me in several months, however. I know I tend to become delusional over time…
The Internet is an amazing tool that really does bring people from all over the world together, and I see the effects of this in no greater way than I have in the derby community. I have no idea what I thought would come from this blog when I started it. I was hoping that it would act as another mechanism for bringing together a group of women who identify with themselves the way I identify with myself, but I’m continually astounded that you actually DO identify with the things I go through and find my recorded experiences to be inspiring. I get lots of emails and DMs from both longtime readers and people who just found the blog, and my biggest reward in this (if there is one) is hearing how something I wrote played a part in helping someone start something, continue something, or straight up kick something’s ass. And these stories, in part, made me realize just how important derby is to me and how much I love being a part of it. For that I thank you a million times over.
I don’t know why I’m the type of person who tweets every thought or blogs every memory. I guess I have diarrhea of the finger tips. Regardless the reason, it’s awkward at times to consider the audience at the other end of the Internet. I write this blog, in part, as if no one is listening, because if I think about it too hard I’d be entirely too freaked out to write at all. In a weird way, derby gave me my voice, and when I’m skating I speak more freely. I hope to be speaking more freely this year as well.
As I’ve been making this slow transition back to derby, I’ve found myself pondering the following question over and again: If I hadn’t joined derby when I did in 2005, would I join derby now? It’s a tough question to answer, mainly because derby has shaped me into a much different person than I was 5 years ago. Truth is, I don’t know how I did it or if I could do it again, but I keep coming back to the idea that it’s within human nature to crave hard work. While I know I have a long and hard road ahead of me, I am happy to be back on the road. It’s familiar, yet daunting, and while I know what lies ahead, I’m happy to continue traveling that road with a slightly new and renewed perspective.