A loaded word for me
A word that carries much more weight for me than most.
I remember it so clearly, the sound of blades on the ice, so graceful yet aggressive.
There was a peaceful stillness, among the flowing strokes, between the song routines. A peaceful stillness among the almost darkness, and among the sometimes-as-many-as a few of us, on the ice, there in Murrays Rink of Yonkers, NY.
After all, it was 5:30 in the morning.
Odd? Not to my sister and I. My sister Erika (who is 6 years older than me), and I resided at that rink at 530 am Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays before school. (weekends were for competitions)
Skating was not our hobby, it was our life.
As far back as I can remember, I was on skates.
I don’t remember it ever being a choice to be honest, lol, I don’t know if it’s because our dad was from Europe or what, but the minute we could walk, we were on skates.
Among skating throughout the years I had other hobbies that were fun to me like ballet, various instrument playing, gymnastics, singing –those were all fun to me because I remember having a choice in the matter.
We traveled for competitions, and won stacks of metals. We stayed at our coach Stacey’s apartment on weekends at times, she was like family to us.
By the time I was 11 I’d succeeded in a single axle and was working on my double, while Erika was working on her triple. It wasn’t until I gradually entered adulthood that I would gradually start to realize the magnitude of what was going on there.
We would’ve eventually entered the Olympics and at that time, it would’ve been perfectly normal to me. Having the spotlight on me and winning competitions was second nature to me, not from an ego standpoint but from a “my muscles hurt by the time I went to school” standpoint. Skating was breathing and had shaped me in many ways. I had been developing in more ways than one while skating as if it were walking. Thus all of this, was all I knew. Skating and I were one, we evolved together.
So why am I not an Olympic gold metalist? Well that’s the downside that comes with becoming an adult, the part they don’t tell you. As you become an adult and inevitably look back on your life, you begin the see things that have always been there but you were not aware of, for me, in this instance, it was missed opportunity.
Looking back as an adult it eventually became painfully clear to me, that I was being trained from day 1 to be a success at something, was succeeding, and then life happened.
It would’ve been the natural progression in that natural evolvement to have been in the Olympics in a matter of years and possibly won numerous times the way I’ve been doing my whole life. It would’ve been worth it.
Me making something of myself and having something to show for it, it would’ve then dawned on me as an adult, oh, this is what this was all for. It all makes sense now. Up until then I was wondering how my Assistant Dean of Cornell Medical College mom and Columbia History Philosophy Professor Dad were absolutely ape sh*t. But while sitting among my, what would’ve been and should’ve been, natural success as a obvious result at that point, it would’ve all made sense, what it was all for.
Everything would’ve tied together for me in many ways but most of all in my head, the way most does for people becoming adults and eventually and gradually understanding where there parents came from.
However like I said it pained me to look back as an adult and realize, wow, my sister and I were a blade stroke away from entering pre-olympic training if we weren’t already in it…damn. It would’ve all been worth something, it would’ve all made sense.
We spent our entire lives working for something, that at the last minute, when it was time for payday, everything fell apart.
At that time of dealing with everything falling apart, skating was the last thing on our minds.
At that point we already lost our father some years back, then our mother suddenly collapsed from an unexpected sudden brain aneurism in the stairway of Cornell, as her boss carried her running to help.
Her last words were “Don’t’ let them take advantage of you” to him.
Him being the Head Dean of Cornell, later became my legal guardian after she passed; we loved each other and still keep in contact.
However my mom’s sister wanted custody of me and I had to move to Newtown CT, in the middle of 7nth grade to enter a middle school where she was the vice principal. Fun. It was so fun in fact that eventually I got hit by a car crossing the street at age 13, trying to get to the orthodontist.
It’s ok I was fine, just a subdural hematoma, bleeding of the brain, TBI something or other ICU yadi yada, it’s fine.
Anyway, after learning to walk again, I guess that’s the time they re-tried me out at skating for the first time –great time. That is the time to do it you know, after years off the ice for the first time in your life and having to re learn to walk. Needless to say, I didn’t win that competition. Some would call me better then average, but I know what I’ve lost. Only my sister, my coach, my mom(if alive), and I, would really know the extent of how far I was, from where I’de been. I was nowhere near where I had left off in training.
Eventually I moved to Yorktown to live with my uncle and cousins at 14 and life didn’t stop there, oh the party continued, and as for Erika she eloped with our cleaning lady’s son in an escape from residing with our CT aunt, but all those fun times can be revealed in later chapters.
So when people ask about skating….it’s more of a loaded question for me than most. I want to give it the credit it deserves, and not treat the topic like it was something I hadn’t lived and breathed for my entire upbringing, however I then have to figure out how to answer the next question in a way people can take it.
“Well then, what happened, how come you guys didn’t enter the Olympics..”
I remember the first time answering this question for someone was really the first time I had a chance to face it myself. I tried to remember, it never dawned on me. I never had the emotional space or time for any of this to even enter my realm of thought or processing. I had always been too busy dealing with the next thing.
So there I was, facing it for the first time as someone asked, and I thought what happened…
“O that’s right, everyone died and I got hit by a car.” I said nonchalantly while continuing to eat my salad.
Of course whoever I was with asked what, so I naturally answered, again because this is all I know, (and it was before I had the awareness of understanding the public did not live the kind of life I did and that I have to eventually put things in a way that is easier for them to take).
“Yea I remember now, I got hit by a car and everyone was dead around me in some way or another. Did you want more salad or you good?”
How do you nonchalantly say that, people don’t, they write books if sh*t like that happens, so here I am. Here I am, the queen of finding meaning in all that has happened to me, since I had to be, for any sort of emotional survival, and in this topic it is hard to not fall into the usual pessimism adults fall into when really becoming an adult.
How to find meaning in dedicating your life to something, that would eventually looked like it was for nothing.
Here’s what I’ve derived. I may have been put here for a stronger message. We all have a message for the world, whether we express it through engineering, inventing, writing, art, sports, any way. If I had, won an Olympic metal or metals, in doing what I did, it would’ve been second nature to me. As an adult looking back of course I’m like ‘holy sh*t, wish that would’ve panned out the way it should have and it all would’ve been worth something,’
but perhaps my message is worth more.
If I had won metals second-naturedly, and they asked me how I felt, I would’ve responded in whatever way I felt was beneficial to the public being the sweet girl I was told I was and am, however in my head I would’ve felt like
“well yea I won this, because this is a result of years of pain, sacrifice, tribulation, and work. Yea, it’s only natural, what else would’ve came of this, only makes sense. Not like a won the lotto, I worked it.”
So as much as I would’ve tried to say something nice and grateful to the public, the energy of mere earning it would’ve also came through, and what did I learn there, what message is the public getting. Not much, just looks like mere math to me.
However the events that followed led me on a different path. I lost more, therefore I sought more. Seeking more led me to learn more, and now whatever message I have for the world, will be much more helpful and to a lot more people. Because everyone goes through things, but not everyone is interested in the realm of skating. However we are all in the realm of life, which is primarily what my message will be about.
My life view now is much broader than receiving a metal. My life events have lead me to learn that we are only here for a mere moment. I can’t take a metal with me, but I can take my experiences and life lessons; and what’s most important to me is that as I am learning, I am sharing with the world, and as I am sharing with the world, I continue to learn.