Personal Narrative Essay: Life In Black And White
Every child dreams of the air, of flying like Superman or like the birds, of getting away from the rules and the crowds and the bustle of the ground. We dream of the freedom and escape that flying may bring. Now, I never learned how to fly, that’s impossible, but there are some things out there that get pretty damn close to that feeling.
Where I’m from, almost everyone skated: speed skating, figure skating, ice hockey, they did it all. I grew up watching Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, and old tapes of Sonja Henie; all of them highly regarded figure skaters. “You always want to run before you learn how to walk” is what my Po-Po had said, and she wasn’t wrong. I learned how to skate when I was five years old, and from day …show more content…
Pure white things with silver wings embroidered into the ankles. I loved them; I thought the little wings taught me how to fly; I thought that those wings, as white and pure as fresh ice, had set me free. I wore them for years, and won medals with them for years, and every single one of those medals felt as cold and heavy and unforgiving as the ice in that rink. I loved those skates because they were a gift, not because of what they represented. You see, there’s a thing about figure skating: it’s very traditional; and people don’t like it when you don’t want to be traditional. You could say it’s black and white; both figuratively and literally. The norms of skating are a strict binary: there are boy’s positions, and there are girl’s positions. There is nothing in between, there is no mix-and-match, there is no trading. What you come into the sport as is what you stay. Even the clothing is almost strictly binary. Only boys can wear black skates, but never white. Only girls can wear white or colored skates, but never black. In formal competition, you will almost never see a boy out of a black suit or black leggings, and you will almost never see a girl out of a white dress or skirt. Those white skates represented who I was supposed to be, who my parents wanted me to be, who I never was. That nice snow white never again looked as comforting as it did the first time I skated. It looked like an avalanche waiting …show more content…
I started studying more English and science, and learned to cook and clean and care for a family. The skates were put in the bin to donate to some other little girl who wanted to grow wings. I barely talked to the hockey boys anymore, but every time I saw Aleks he would say to me: “You should join the hockey team” and every time, my answer would be: “Girls can’t play hockey.” He never stopped asking, no matter how old the question got.
Eventually the day came. “Girls might not be able to play hockey, but you can” is the last thing he said to me for three years. That’s when I knew that he knew. He knew, but he never stopped believing in me.
Toni Morrison’s quote really does ring true: “You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” Now I stand outside the rink I’ve been going to for the past five years. It’s not even dawn, and yet there are at least a dozen of us waiting eagerly for the rink to open, desperate to warm up for the day’s competition. There’s no snow outside like there was last time I competed, but I suppose that’s a good thing: snow never was my friend. The doors open at six a.m. and we rush to get ready. “Come on, dritthode,” says Alecks, “let’s play