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I remember Skate City being a place where the cool kids scissor-crossed their skates and zoomed passed me while I stayed along the edge of the rink, trying to remain vertical. The times I managed to go backward were done by inertia and gravity, not by choice. I looked like a go-cart in the Daytona 500, but I didn't care. I was happy to be there.

There was something about the atmosphere that was unlike any world I'd known. I loved the colorful lights darting around the roller rink from the huge disco ball. I loved the energetic music asking, "How looow can you gooo?" as we skated under (or into) the limbo bar. I loved the smell of concession stand nacho cheese and sweaty skates worn by hundreds of kids for decades.

OK, I didn't really like that smell, so when I recently learned we'll be having a skating party this fall at our 25th high school class reunion, I decided I'd get my own skates and finally master the art ... or at least be able to do some basic moves.

I scanned the many options available online, sorting through the differences in wheel softness, plate material and vanity mirrors. When Dave, my beloved UPS driver, brought me the package, I was giddy. I immediately tore open the box, laced the shiny new wheels on my feet and Googled, "How to skate."

"The fear of falling is much worse than actually falling," the super-skater explained in a video.

Super-skaters lie. But in a few moments, she had me upright and jerking forward like a zombie in a B-movie.

That evening, Baxter took me for a walk around the Bentonville Square. A young boy wobbled his way toward us on a skateboard.

"Can I pet your dog?" he asked.

"Sure," I said. "Is that a new skateboard?"

"Nah, not really. My sister got a long board. I'm learning on this one."

"I just got a pair of roller skates," I announced proudly.

The boy looked skeptical. "Really?"

"Yep. I've not been on a pair of skates since I was 12."

He calculated the time between now and when Moses wore short pants, then snorted and rolled his eyes. "You are so gonna to break somethin'," he declared. "I mean, I fell and nearly broke my arm, and I'm 8. You're gonna bust it."

And with that declaration, he teetered his way into the sunset. I looked down at Bax, who nodded affirmatively with the boy's assessment.

What fuddy duds! I realize I'm somewhere between Pokemon and Life Alert, but knowing how to laugh and learn is ageless, especially when bubble-wrapped in protective wrist, elbow and knee padding. Come September, I plan to do the hustle straight into the middle of that skating rink, feel the breeze of stale chips and gym socks on my face, and sing aloud with KC and The Sunshine Band. Bring it on, limbo bar. I can still take you down.

NAN Our Town on 05/25/2017

Print Headline: Living beyond the edge

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