Push, roll, shake a little, regain balance, lift the other foot, swing it forward, land then push, roll. Slide, glide and roll down the incline, then slowly, carefully, push and roll to make it through the flat areas.

One lap around the park, that was my goal, I announced to the woman standing by her car as I rolled over to mine. “Baby steps,” she replied to me as she then turned to greet her friend that had just arrived. She’d been waiting in her car when I set off on my 1/2 mile journey around the neighborhood park. I was sure she had watched me stutter, shake, and roll through my lap. This park is home to an exciting skate park with ramps, half-pipes, rails, and all kinds of cool things for tricks. Like usual, it was full of skateboards tonight, but I’ve seen scooters, roller skaters, and rollerbladers there too. I’m a long way from pulling off stunts and tricks; I just don’t want to fall down.

I had roller skates as a kid — white leather lace-up skates worn mostly on our driveway or the sidewalk around the house. If we ever went to the roller rink, I rented the skates. My outdoor wheels were too rough. Early in college I bought roller blades, but had a similar issue. There weren’t enough smooth places to skate and between the bumps and hills, I soon lost my enthusiasm for it in our sun-scorched concrete suburban world.

This pair I bought for the purpose of challenging myself, as well as for the novelty of it. I associate skating with the freedom of Saturday afternoons and nothing to do but roll. I don’t expect to be good, but I like having something to work on, something new to try. Rolling down the gentle incline and finishing that first lap felt good. Who knows, maybe once I’m not so shaky, it will be fun!

Writer, researcher, observer