How I became a really real skater

I said I was going to write about skating here. I did, and then I didn’t.

So here’s what you missed.

I made a lot of progress.

And then I broke my arm. In three places. In February.

No surgery. No cast, because it was up near the shoulder.

I missed a family wedding.

I had to sleep sitting up on the couch for three weeks.

I’ve had good doctors and sexist doctors and ageist doctors and not a single doctor who knows anything about figure skating at all (thanks, guy who assumed I was a pairs skater and doing handstands on dudes’ shoulders… whut?! no).

I’ve started physical therapy and 100% recovery is expected.

I’ve been off the ice for 47 days.

And when I go back hinges almost entirely on my next X-rays on May 1.

Because of course, all of this, in the end, is about witchcraft.

I won’t say that getting hurt shows you who your friends are. That didn’t happen. But it sure as shit shows you what people think of you. Who believes in you. Who is afraid of you. Who thinks you’re so strong you don’t need them. Who is willing to tell you it’s okay to need as much as you do.

Here’s a thing about when you fall down and break your arm on the ice: You still have to get up and skate off the ice, even if you’re in shock. And then you have to fill out forms and text a bunch of people to tell them where the ambulance is taking you and get your skates off and it’s all impossible because one of your hands doesn’t work right and the other hand is shaking and you can’t focus and you’re in more pain than you’ve ever been in in your life (yes, even worse than kidney stones).

And the only thing you can do is keep asking your coach how long you’re going to be off the ice while wondering if you’re going to throw up because three different people are in your phone texting people for you and oh God, what horrible things are in my phone?

But you have to rely on other people. Whether you want to or not.

One thing that’s been odd about all this is that I have been mostly relentlessly cheerful. I mean, the day of was terrifying. And there was the day my mom and I got into a screaming match. And the day when I was sure the doctor was going to tell me “4 more weeks” I got “at your age… 12 to 16 weeks, at least” and I emailed my coach with that detail and I just feel really sad.

And sometimes, I’d have four hour stretches where I wanted to stop following every skater on Instagram because I couldn’t look at the sport without feeling really sad.

But mostly, I’ve laughed about it a lot. And you know me. Eventually, I always go to war. (Also, to be fair, everyone (the physical therapist, my coach, the other doctors) thinks that most recent doctor was… not accurate, exaggerating, and crappy).

So I’ve told the story of this whole thing hundreds of times now, because I enjoy telling stories. And I’ve worked on my French. And I’ve obsessed about skating (Worlds was six types of weird this year and Jason Brown is a whole sunshine). I’ve even managed to get back to working at farm share for the last few weeks.

And now, I am, hopefully in the home stretch.

And I don’t know what it’s gonna be like when I get back on the ice. Maybe I’ll be braver and leap ahead because a really bad thing happened and I’m fine. Or maybe I’ll be completely freaked out.

But whatever it is, I need to lean into it and get through it. Because one of the truest things about this mess is how many stories I’ve had to tell, how many essays about the shape of my life and how this fits into it, that I don’t feel like I can actually write.

Which is a long story in and of itself. About the price I’ve always paid for seeing beauty and patterns and grace and having the temerity to talk about it.

So I’m just going to skate. And you’ll figure it out. Or you won’t.

But I promise you this, the person you know that can most handle falling down is also the person who will thrive the most under the smallest kindnesses.

I used to think my delight at small praise was a terrible sin. But then I realized, naaaaah, that’s actually on the people who made me this way.

Me? I’m actually great.


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