Wednesday, January 18, 2012

They See Me Rollin'

This prompt - "a personal anecdote turned metaphor" - was killer. I wrote four personal life stories in search of one with a metaphor before I settled on this. It's short, yes, but gets the point across, I suppose. One of the reasons so many of the others got rejected was because I felt like any metaphors contained within had to be so painfully drug out to be made clear. I wanted to just tell a story and let the metaphor kind of peek its head out and announce itself more subtly. In any case, enjoy the tale.

  The backyard of the house on the corner of Linda Circle claimed more of my childhood hours than I know how to count. There was the playhouse, of course, which hosted our drive-thru restaurant and our castle imaginings alike. There was the retaining wall holding up a small hill, covered on one side with honeysuckle vines where many an afternoon was passed chaining floral necklaces full of fragrant nectar one could later snack on; what pure magic. There was the long and thin patch of muddy grass that made for a perfect excavation site. And yes, there was the simple slab of concrete outside the kitchen sink window and adjacent slider door, on which the pogo stick unendingly pounded (in pursuit of the personal-best record, which wound up being three hundred and forty-something), and perhaps more importantly, on which the Fisher-Price Roller Skates were daily donned.

  Ah, those skates. How brilliant were they? Clunky and shockingly bright, engineered to expand as the wearer grew and fit over just about any shoe, these skates were in my life long before I had memory to know there had ever been life without them. I was a child of the 80's; my parents' whole social circle revolved around the roller rink. They went on skating group dates after school on the weekends together. My mom even worked at the snack bar of their local rink for a while after I was born. Nothing could be more natural, then, but for their daughter to know how to skate from infancy.

  I can't recall exactly when, but I have a feeling I was about seven, after having skated the heck out of my Fisher-Price bad boys (for at least three years, maybe longer), when one afternoon my mom stepped out of the house after having completed a sink full of dishes, and announced a trip to K-mart. Dude.

  K-mart being full of its usual charms, I know it wasn't long before I requested a turn down the toy aisle. I know the coloring books were on my radar that day, but I genuinely never could have expected what I didn't know had been planned for me.

  Real roller skates, you guys.

  I had never asked for real roller skates. I never pined after real roller skates. There had been no begging or pleading or circling in catalogues. This gift was a complete surprise. It was not within our 'normal' for a purchase like this to be made "just because." Stuff this level of awesome was reserved for birthdays and Christmas. I was floored. As I took my place on the scratchy industrial carpet, removing my shoes and taking the skates out of their box to try on, I looked at my mom with wide eyes begging the question, "really? Why?" She stated simply that she had been watching me on my skates for a long time, and that one day I had "got it," and when you get it, you get big-kid skates. That's the way it goes.

  I felt like I'd won the lottery. You know, because I never knew I was being watched. I never knew this was planned for me. I just knew I was outside, in my strap-on wheels, circling that concrete slab faster than I could on my feet alone, not knowing I was accidentally working for something great I didn't know was coming.

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