Sunday, March 21, 2010

To All the Roller Girls I've Loved...

I was inspired by a friend's FB post about getting reacquainted with one's neglected blog, and although I've posted and raved all over these Internetz about my awesome roller girl, I'm going to do it here too.

Anya dragged out my old rainbow roller skates and with a delighted giggle and a wave of a dismissive hand when I cautioned her to be careful, balanced on one foot and climbed into the huge old things. Her arms out for balance and nary a stumble, she roll-walked across the living room, singing out, "Roller skates! Roller skates!" Here's some shots of her during the 45 minutes of roller skating that ensued- for those of you with toddlers, marvel at 45 minutes of ANYTHING!

Sure it's cool, and we always knew she was a crazy-coordinated little monkey, but her joy in those roller skates stirs a crazy happiness in me.

I remember my first pair of skates, black with purple laces, wheels and stoppers, so beautiful they made my heart hurt a little. My older sister who was the sun and the moon of my universe skated all the way to Berkeley High, speeding down from the North Berkeley hills and coasting all the way there. I skated in circles around the house, waiting for her to get home, hoping she would let me into her room and brush my hair and braid it so tight it brought tears to my eyes and let me watch her peer into the mirror critically and try on on earrings from her crazy beaded, feathery collection. She used to string little rubber animals at the end of 2 inch long beaded strands dangling from hooks and wear them in her ears and she was so cool and so beautiful I felt the way I did when I looked at my new black and purple roller skates.

While I waited for her to get home I would skate in circles on the hardwood floors of our big old house, my father was "taking a nap", sleeping off the Xanax and the crushing depression and the liquor and the pain and the rage; my mother was typing, always typing, clinical journal articles about the horrors of how people rule and crush and govern one another, books and papers always spread out around her like a fortress, she murmured, "You'd think it was boring. You wouldn't understand." when I skate up to her hopefully questioning. So I skated in lonely circles, living room to dining room to hallway to living room, my cool purple wheels thrumming against the floor and echoing through the wide cold house. My sister is breathless when she flies into the house, and she smells like cocoa butter and smoke and warmth. She admires my purple and black skates and notices my purple shirt and tells me to hold still while she yanks on my hair to pull it out of its bedraggled ponytail. I follow her wherever she goes and she is laughing on the phone and I hope that means that her friends are coming over, Carolyn has a voice and laugh that make the sun shine and Molly is so kind and beautiful I have suspected that she is actually one of the Greek goddesses we learned about, walking the earth in mortal form. But this time my sister is getting ready to leave, and I think about sneaking into her room after she's gone, weighing the heady bliss of sitting at her mirror opening the cocoa butter and inhaling the deep sweet smell while pretending to wear the dangly pig earrings that I covet, weighing that potential joy against the risk of making her angry and being shut out of her presence if she catches me. When she tries to leave the house I sit on her foot and wrap my arms around her leg and make her drag me to the door while I plead with her to stay. She alternates between guilty apologies and irritated frustration and finally pries me off. So I sit on the floor and lace my skates tight and start skating in slow circles around the empty house.


Olivia Weber-Stenis said...

What an awesome tribute to your sister! Reminds me why I wished I had an older sister of my own. Also reminds me of my Rainbow Brite velcro roller skates.

lindsay said...

I kinda wish I hadn't read that. Makes me hurt a little.

I like the phrase, "how people rule and crush and govern one another."