Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Diamonds on the Soles of My Shoes

People say she's crazy 

She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes 
Well that's one way to lose these 
Walking blues 
Diamonds on the soles of your shoes 

She was physically forgotten 

And then she slipped into my pocket ...
Paul Simon, "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes"

As if anyone here is going to know what I am talking about and as if that is even going to matter.

 I know, there is more than one way to lose the walking--or any kind of-- blues. . . 

 But you know, I have my preference.

Once, when I was maybe 5, probably 6 though, I told my mother I wanted to go ice skating. 

And she said,"But you don't know how. Ice skating is hard. I can't even ice skate."

I told her, with absolute confidence, " I can skate." 

She asked me, how I knew? 

I explained to her, I had been watching it on TV and that I just knew I could do it. I was certain of it. Not even a glinting sliver of a doubt in my mind. 

I knew, I could skate.

So my parents, my mother doubting, took me to the ice skating rink.


Parkaire was a new "mall" built around an ice rink on what was once a grassy field with an old airport landing strip on the corner of Lower Roswell Road and Johnson Ferry Road. It was an ice rink that had doors leading into, out of Kroger. As if, while grocery shopping, you might get a wild hair and want to take a break from your errands and go skate. Set your groceries,  preserved and waiting, on a cold bench while you turned a few loops on the smooth, just Zambonied ice rink. Or, more likely, brilliantly so--I think; parents could just drop off their kids while they quietly Krogered for a week's worth of groceries. 

What a great little mall that was. 

My dad took Karate in one of the upper level glass front store spaces. A neighbor owned a shoe store  called Papagallo's or some strange Italian name like that. Wender and Roberts, the drug store that would deliver your prescriptions, had the best candy aisle. I even adopted my cat Scrounge from that mall when the local Humane Society held a pet adoption day. Found my little black and white kitty with one yellow eye and one mottled eye in a cage adjacent to that ice skating rink. 

As my mother tells the story, she took me to the ice skating rink and was indeed surprised when I was set loose on the ice, that I not only could I ice skate but I could ice skate quite well:  I did spins and twirls. I skated in figure eights; backwards and forwards. 

I did, just as I had told her, know how to skate.  

Even though I had never tried. 

I just knew; that I could.

Now, really, I don't know why I could skate. Because I know there were many things, when I was young, that I thought I could do before trying them and I would very quickly find out, the hard way, that I could not do them even a tiny bit. 

Like swimming. 

I was forever jumping in pools and bodies of water and having to be scooped out and saved because I could not swim at all. Not even a tiny bit could I swim. And I wouldn't even teeter cautiously on the edge of the pool or wade trepidatiously down shallow steps. Nope. I would run, jump and dive, flinging my tiny child body through the air with exuberance  and splashing straight into the deep end with the greatest of confidence. And then I would sink, like a stone, and have to sit, wide eyed  and staring up through light shafted water from the bottom of the pool, waiting to be saved. At three, I would even sneak out of our Beau Rivage apartment, intent on a Saturday at 5 am, that I was going swimming. Details, like not being able to swim or that the pool would even be open or that I could ever make it over the stone wall leading to the pool, were completely irrelevant. 

Eventually though, with much persistence,  I learned to swim. 

And I found, after effort and time, that I could even swim very, very well. 

Lately though, I've been wondering what happened to all that youthful bravado. How and exactly when, and why-- did it all go away? What happened to the girl that always felt she could and would try anything without even a second of worry that maybe she could not?
Failure wasn't ever a thought. And even when she met it head on; she just plowed through it. 

What happened to the girl that always banked on the currency that she could rather than the debt that she could not?

Where the heck did she go? 

She was awesome.

Sometimes though, she comes back around. Most often I find her when I am pounding out the miles on the sidewalk, trail, track or treadmill with Pandora in my pocket and some musical poetry floating in my head. I feel her awesomeness, her bravery, her invincibility.  I feel the hardness of the ground travel in shock waves through the diamond pattern on my shoes, up my legs and through my bones, muscles, organs and every tiny tingling nerve ending in a rhythm that says, you can you can you can.

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