Clinging to the Railing


A Press Dispatch From the Wall of the Rink

Squeeeeeak. A kid with thick glasses slams into a thick wooden railing on the edge of the roller rink. It is 1982, Time’s Man of the Year is The Computer, E.T. was just released, and most importantly, the Skate Land skating rink has opened in Omaha. 

I remember my first time at Skate Land, with the name later changed to Skate Daze as we know it today. The soda came in pitchers and the skates came in pairs. The music was loud and upbeat. Well, not loud in the obnoxious sense, it was just right. You could feel the music. There were games of limbo and cha cha slide in the middle. It looked like so much fun.

What was the problem?

Why was I attached to the railings and walls when there were games and new people, so much joy to be had?

Fear. I clung to the walls and my legs shook. This wasn’t natural! What kind of sadistic violence was this? To put wheels on the feet of kids and expect them to figure it out? What will I do? I can’t skate at all. It’s easier on the wall, it’s comfortable, and safe. But, a ship in the harbor is a waste of a ship, as some people, with a more courage and adventurous outlook might say. No I think I like it here. 

Everything blurs past.

Everyone is going every which way. 

I cling to the wall. 

People are skating forwards while facing backwards and backwards while facing forwards. 

Some dance to the music, some speed up in faster and tighter rings around the rink.
I don’t want to cling to the wall anymore.

Fear. I let go of the walls and my legs shook. This wasn’t natural! What kind of sadistic violence was this? To put wheels on my feet and not enjoy it? What will I do? I can’t skate at all. Good thing, nobody else does either. Not really. Everyone just makes it up as they go.

I do one lap, 

Then two,

Then three

I’m going faster now, I’m moving closer to the middle. Now it’s a race. Zoom! I’m a racecar driver, at least in my own imagination, going faster with every turn!






I crashed, and hard. I go up to my mom, and I am done. I want to use a scooter now. No more skates. No more adventures. No more fun. My mom didn’t cave. I didn’t need a scooter. I needed more practice. I was having so much fun!

I go back to the wall. Fear. Everything blurs past.

Everyone is going every which way. 

It takes less time to get bored of the wall a second time. 

I’m back on the rink. I’m really feeling the music now, and I’m not a racecar driver any more. I’m dancing along with the music, skating, and having a blast. I would fall down a thousand more times, on and off the rink. But the important part is I found my way back into the middle. I wasn’t the same person every time I fell, wasn’t always the same when I got up, and sometimes I would still sulk by the railing, waiting for amusement to lure me out of fear. The important part is that my mom never let me quit and take off the skates, and that I always got up. I was encouraged. 

Skatedaze meant so much to me and I was sad to learn that it was closing permanently, and that people wouldn’t get to experience what I experienced there, and what countless others experienced. But the point is not that it’s gone, it is to remember the lessons of the rink. 

Leave the wall and live your life.

Always get up and try again. 

Don’t get discouraged, and don’t let fear control you.

And most important to remember

Have fun.

Goodbye SkateDaze. I will miss you.