Last Friday marked a momentous day. It was the day I overcame my fear of ice-skating. It’s not the fear of humiliation from proving that gravity exists, even on ice, or spending the next hour or so holding on to the rail for balance. I had this horrid thought that once I lose my balance and splat on the frozen ground, a soaring skater behind me will cleanly severe my fingers, or worse, my hand, with the blades of the skates.
As I approached the booth which rented the skating boots, both excitement and fear siezed me. I firmly secured the straps, and slowly made my way a few flight of steps up to the skating rink. The blades of the skates scraping on the ice didn’t bring thoughts of halo-halo, neither a gory scene fit for a chainsaw horror flick. As you would have guessed, I clung onto the wooden railing, seeking safety and security like a baby making his first steps. I let go of the railing to show courage, mostly to the kids and teeners pushing and sliding on their feet, as if it was simply another way of walking.
Four out of us eight in the group were beginners. We come from countries where ice only normally came in the form of cubes to cool our tropical shakes or bought as a creamy dessert. There are indoor skating rinks in the Philippines, in fact, even way bigger than the outdoor skating rinks I’ve seen in Antwerp. The one in Freiburg is even a much smaller one. As I said earlier, my creative mind prevented me from exploring this pastime.
Soon I got the hang of pushing and gliding, zipping from one corner to the next, with an average speed of about one kilometer per hour. I awkwardly lost my balance countless times and had closed calls of falling, yet caught my balance just in the nick of time. I didn’t doubt I would finish 90 minutes of skating without falling. In some conspiring act of nature, the laws of physics proved me wrong after one hour. It was an initation rite all beginning skaters had to go through. A single, hard fall. I slid, skidded, and groped for leverage. There was none to hold on to, for I was near the center of the rink. I fell on my butt, hitting the ice without a sound, only some mocking cry of pain from one skater. Those spectators from outside the rink must have choked from their piping hot Gluehwein. I slowly rose unscathed from my vulnerable position, and grabbed the nearest railing I could reach. I checked my hands and fingers, just to be sure they were complete. Later, one other beginner offered me a penguin-balancer, those that worked like walkers for babies. With it I found a skating partner, and I skated with speed and agility like a pro.
Soon the time was up and we had to leave. I left the skating rink safe, not minding the cold weather and the pain from my fall. I was just happy there was no dismembered part of my body.
*Ice skating rink