POV: Upright.

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.

I went ice skating last week, on a Sunday night, ten minutes from my apartment in McCarren Park. A small portion of the swimming pool had been converted into a rink the day before, and, on this drizzly evening, a small crowd had gathered, circling the ice in gray twilight.

I hadn’t skated in years. To my relief, it appeared, neither had anyone else. Clusters of high school girls, giggling behind curtains of long hair, slipped and slid their way around the rink. Children clung to the walls all around, lurching forward in single-file, like ducklings.  

My skates, feather-light when passed over the rental counter, now felt unwieldy and enormous. I teetered. I tottered. I made faces, unwillingly, out of unease and laughter and flitting bursts of panic. Yair, my companion in adventure, coaxed me along.

Earlier that day, he'd attended a friend's baby shower, and on our walk to McCarren, we talked about what it was like to be twenty-eight and to feel far from adulthood, to not know what we want. At this point, I reasoned, I don't have very many wants - only to stay inspired and to avoid boredom wherever possible; to make things and share them; to know good people and to love them. If I'm going to feel my way through adulthood without a picture or a plan, I want to do that happily, and without clinging to walls. I want to feel free and I want to remember to be thankful.

Around me, other skaters took spectacular dives, spinning on their backsides or slamming with alarming force into the walls surrounding the rink. A girl in a faux fur hood whizzed past, arms flapping, inviting collision. I leaned forward with arms outstretched to keep from falling. 

“It’s easier to stay upright if you just keep moving,” Yair called from up ahead.

"That's so metaphorical it's almost embarrassing," I said, but I did it. 

I tried drawing pictures in the ice with the blades of my skates, to make S's and O's, to glide gracefully backwards the way I'd seen figure skaters do (this, it turns out, is much more difficult than it looks). I tried tracing the shadows of the lights strung overhead; I grabbed the arms of children wobbling by to steady them. I circled and circled, turn and spun, looked wooden and ungraceful and didn't care, and I laughed. I forgot, for whole minutes at a time, that I was even moving at all.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, here. Thank you a million times over for reading - wishing you the happiest Thanksgiving.

Photo via my Instagram.

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