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2nd May
written by Mombo#9

For many months, I felt like I should be in some type of “step” program. Not necessarily a 12-, but certainly something to redirect my focus from the 2-step, or pattern of steps, that makes up a dance. Particularly an ice dance.

My daughter had decided to go on to college and stop competing.

This after fourteen years of skating. This after competing from no-test to junior. This after competing from club level to Nationals. This after medals from Basic Skills to international. She wanted to find out what it is like to have a “normal” life.

I commiserated with “me” — this must have been what if felt like in the ’60s when children told their parents they were moving to Berkley to be a flower child. I commiserated with “myself” — this must be what it is like to have your child decide to be a piercing-and-tattoo model. I commiserated with “I” — next, she will probably tell me she wants to be a social worker.

I searched magazine covers and self-help book topics, but discovered I am a member of the forgotten group: the invisible tribe of maternal beings that traditionally held sequined ritual gowns, sharpened blades, and sought rhythms from the heavens. The mover and the shaker of traffic jams. Giving witness and solace to each practice and performance.
The mother. The mother to a skater who has moved on to a normal life.

And so I wallowed about. I bobbed my hair. I had a varicose vein dissolved. I layered my hair. I lost weight. I ate a leftover birthday cake from Safeway that gave a shout out to “Heidi” turning 10. I watched old skating tapes with half waltz jumps, and recent Nationals CDs. I ate Ben & Jerry’s from the carton with an ice-tea spoon. I ran marathons on the treadmill.

My daughter — the one who never skated senior, although she would have had a Grand Prix if she had stayed just one more year — my daughter — with the lovely edges and classic grace –my daughter –whom Elton John had certainly had in mind when he penned “Tiny Dancer” (never mind the year –Sir John transcends time) — my daughter…?

My daughter was doing fine.

She became the normal college GPA-seeking law school student who lives solo in a one-bedroom apartment with a walk-in closet. She began the normal life of eating zero fat grams and never putting anything processed or refined in her cupboard. She began the normal life of going on two cruises her senior year and at twenty-one, earning seventy-five dollars an hour — legally — for part-time work.

And this was how I found myself on April 15, tax day, standing at the ticket window at the Wilmington Ice Show, purchasing a $45.00 ticket to sit on a cushioned chair rink-side, in lieu of $10.00 to sit in the bleachers. My daughter’s Theatre-on-Ice team and some of her private students were performing.

When the first young skaters took to the ice, I gathered my cohorts — me, myself and I — and we had a grand little sniffling fest. Those big booted feet on tiny little limbs brought back memories of my sweet little brown-eyed, brown-haired girl. Just before one of us let out an audible sob that would certainly have caused half the six-year olds to miss their shoot-the-ducks and skid out of control, Tiffany Scott (the 2003 U.S. senior pairs champion and 2002 Olympian) poked her head around the curtain and gave me a wave. I smiled and then busied myself putting on lip-gloss, hoping the final result wasn’t something Joan Crawfordish.

The crowd was waiting for Ashley Wagner. But I, I was waiting for a glimpse of Her.

And finally, just before the third act, I found Her. The house lights waltzed off the natural chocolate highlights in her hair as she turned her focus to the ice …on a seven-year-old dressed as an orchid flower. The child was obviously asking direction or seeking assurance. After a moment, she nodded and then hugged my daughter in a tight hold that displaced petals and blooms — one of those deep grabs that elicits closed eyes and back rubs — and in that one fragment of time, the one blip of a second — my heart and body settled back into the comfort of the padded seat.

The woman sitting next to me had wildly applauded many young Nubian princes and pink sequined ladies in previous acts, causing me to move past mere polite acknowledgement clapping. She noticed my attention and anticipation drawn to the end curtain.

“Is your child in the show?” she asked politely.

“Yes. Yes she is. She’s one of the coaches,” I said in a normal voice.


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