I laid in bed for a few moments, making sure that my eyes were ready to open. Ready to officially clock in and start another shift, also known as a day in my life. There's no taking it back , I tell myself, so be sure that you're ready. I do an internal check, making sure that I'm not hung over, and decided that ok I am ready. Those few glasses of wine before bed are always tricky: either you wake up feeling very well rested, or you have to remember to put your feet on the ground before you stand. It's probably so late that it will seem ridiculous to do it anyway. I shove my body into a sideways tuck-and-roll to get myself onto my stomach and take a look at the clock. 7:25 am. Damn, perfect timing. How is it that during the week, no matter what time I went to bed the previous evening, when my iPod alarm clock goes off it hits me like a bag of ice cubes across the face, yet on the weekends, I can stay up 'til 3 in the morning and even without and alarm clock wake up before 8am?? This fact both irritates and astounds me. Am I really going to do this? Four months ago in the safety of my parents' garage this idea had legs, body and a sensible head on its broad shoulders. Today, on the morning of, it barely has a leg to stand on. I try to convince myself of the ridiculousness of this plan, a strategy that generally works.
How will I even get there?
Train. That large interconnected mode of public transportation that conveniently boards a few blocks away.
Oh, right, that.
Are people even allowed to do it?
Yes, Adam, this isn't a shopping mall, or a church, or inside of your apartment building.
What if there are a whole bunch of people there? (Which really means, what if people point and laugh at me?)
Usually, this laundry list of questions effect me like a defeatist child at a spelling bee: I just give up. But that small glimmer of me that wants to be his own man, that part of me that made a promise to myself some time ago to start going out and living, suddenly stands up inside of me and goes the fuck off. Oh my God, he says, Would you just balls the fuck up and stop being such a fucking pussy?! You don't know these people in the least. Why the FUCK do you fucking care??!! (He likes to swear a lot; he knows that curse words always seem to demand attention from me.) Oh alright, I tell myself, I'm gonna fucking do this. So, I force myself into the bathroom to wash up, get dressed, and prepare to do something that I haven't done in public since I was 14 years old. I was going ROLLERBLADING.
See, for a while, maybe since February of this year, I spent a lot of time thinking about where I am in life. More importantly, how I feel about where I am in life. I have a job, a decent apartment, and I rarely have to eat ramen noodles from lack of money for food. So then why the hell was I so unhappy? And it occurred to me, after recounting some of my previous experiences, both sexual and otherwise. I thought about the friends that I had and their own lives, and it occurred to me: I had begun to take myself too seriously. I had become so obsessed with trying to grow up and act grown up that I forgot the one single truth that I have known for as long as I can remember: Grownups don't want to be grownups. The grownups that are the happiest are the ones that know how to still have fun. So in order to save myself, I need to remember to take time to have fun. The next step was to tap into what things I like to do to have fun. I of course had to exclude more adult activities (long distance travel, alcohol, or sex), as they require too many extra variables, and there's no guarantee that I'll enjoy it. I tried to think back to my youth, and think of which unadulterated activities I used to enjoy. From a very young age, three things that topped my favorite activities/hobbies list were writing, photography and rollerblading. Having started skating at a very early age I really grew to enjoy it. My mother would regularly drive me to this outdoor ballroom floor next to the neighborhood Reception Hall and Event Pavilion that overlooked a lagoon. I would spend hours just spinning around that thing like it was my own private roller disco. My cousins even got into it, and we convinced our grandparents to let us use their spacious basement as a place to skate. Those memories are some of the best that I have of my childhood. So, the last time I was home I said why the hell not, and brought my skates back to DC..... where they sat in a duffel bag for the past 3 months. For a while I had an excuse to not to touch them because I was traveling so much, and I couldn't bring them with because nowadays airlines are militant about luggage and their additional baggage rates. However, now that I am back in DC, I have no excuses. Well, none that I can justify. With this realization, I headed out the door with a bookbag packed to the limit and a funny feeling somewhere between my stomach and my bowels. You know, that funny feeling that borders between butterflies and bubbleguts. Then, as I got to the train station to head down to the National Mall, I suddenly got really, really happy. It was a beautiful day, and I was putting one of my plans/goals into action. I rode the train with optimism on my breath and joy ringing in my ears.
I soon arrived at the Washington Monument, and among the sprinklings of family units taking photos and speaking in languages or accents that are foreign to me, I opened up my bookbag and took out my rollerblades. I probably resembled the new kid in the cafeteria who takes out his Power Rangers lunchbox and hopes that it doesn't get him laughed at. As I started to put them on, my brain started running scenarios.
“What are those things that that man is taking out of his bookbag Mommy?” I imagined a child saying.
“Oh honey, those are rollerblades. They were all the rage, and then the 90's ended. Now they're just for children and homosexuals. But that boy's black, so I have no idea why he would have them. He must be planning a drive-by on those things or something, you know how the hoodlums are.....I think it's time to pack up your juice box and carrot sticks."
Coming back to reality, I realized that hardly anyone had even noticed me sit down there, let alone judged me. So, as I stood up, I left all of my worries about what these strangers thought of me back on the curb. I pushed off, was soon gliding down the path feeling the breeze across my face, when suddenly, three very important things occurred to me:
- I really, really love this.
- The paths around the monuments really aren't as smooth as I thought that they were, and it's making my butt vibrate.
- If I'm not going to bring a helmet, safety pads, or any protective gear of any kind, I should have at least practiced how to stop sometime between my 15th birthday (almost a decade ago, OMG) and the moment when I started rolling down this hill................AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!
Just kidding. About the screaming part, that is. I really did think Oh Fuck how do you stop again??? right before I slowed myself down enough to roll into the grass. Lesson of the day: if you are on roller skates and need to make a safe or emergency stop, fields of grass or sandy beaches are your best friend. Once I got my bearing I was off, and no fear of judgment would stop me.
So, in conclusion, last Sunday was one of the most satisfying days of my life. I brought my camera with me to the National Mall, so I’ll be putting some photos up a little later. And after I got going I only had to stop once; I saw a twig in the road and nearly had a heart attack. If you've ever seen the movie Big Daddy then you'll understand.