It began in 1995 with me, Mom, and Dad moving from Stevenage, England to the middle of nowhere in a small isolated city called Wichita, Kansas. We moved because Dad got a promotion with his job. The only catch with the promotion was that we had to drop our lives and move to the United States of America. I was 5 at the time so I don’t remember a lot about the move. I do remember Mom talking to me about how we were going on a trip to a new place.
“Sweetie, go grab your favorite stuffed animal and your blanket for the trip. The plane ride will be cold.”
“Okay mommy. I love you.”
“I love you too sweetie. Daddy is going to meet us at the airport in Kansas.”
“Why isn’t daddy flying with us?”
“Because he is going to make sure our new house is ready for us to move in right away and make sure your room is ready for you. And he has to make sure that everything is okie dokie with his new job.”
“Oh, okay mommy.”
The flight from the MAN airport in Manchester, England to the ICT airport in Wichita, Kansas took about 8 hours. According to Mom, I slept the entire way. Dad was waiting for us at the gate and as soon as I saw him I ran straight for him and he picked me up and hugged me and carried me to the car. I slept all the way to the house in the rental car. It was about an hour drive from the airport to our new neighborhood.
When we got to our new house Mom carried me out of the car to our new house. I rubbed my eyes and saw that our house was really big. As I walked up the steps to my new house, I poked my head through the doorway and saw that the inside seemed much bigger. Mom showed me to my room and all my toys and dolls were magically there waiting for me.
A month or so went by and as mom and I were walking down the road, we saw that we were getting new neighbors. So Mom decided that we had to introduce ourselves. Dad would have to introduce himself later, as he was out of the country with work. We walked up the steps and I rang the doorbell. “DING DONG.” I stood beside Mom in my little overalls, blue shirt and sneakers, waiting for the door to open; hoping that the people who were moving in were nice and had kids of their own so I would have friends to play with. A lady opened the front door and behind her were two girls who looked to be around my age. They both stood side by side and introduced themselves.
“Hi, I’m Claire.”
“Hi, I’m Sarah.”
Mom looked at me with the look that instantly said, “Go ahead and introduce yourself.”
“Hi, I’m Samantha, or Sam.”
Instantly the three of us became best friends. We did everything together. Slept over at each other’s houses, went to each other’s birthday parties and just all around had lots and lots of fun. About a year and a bit later, close to my seventh birthday, I was in my bedroom starting to get dressed to go see Sarah and Claire, I looked out my window and saw that they were already outside and rolling on their feet. Quickly, I grabbed my shoes and ran out the door and up close I could see that they were rollerblading.
“Wow, that’s so cool. How do you do that?” I asked in amazement.
“Thanks, it’s easy. Don’t you have a pair?” Sarah asked.
“Nope, but I know what I’m gonna ask for my birthday. Would you guys teach me?”
March didn’t come fast enough, but finally it arrived and the fourth was two days away. I was so excited to finally get my skates and have Sarah and Claire teach me. Finally it was my birthday and all I can remember is that I looked through all my presents and looked for the skate shaped one. I ripped the paper off and looked at my brand new roller blades. They were blue and purple and I was also given a matching helmet with knee and elbow pads. I figured that was the only way Mom and Dad would let me out of the house. So now I had to wait for the weekend to arrive so I could learn how to rollerblade.
I opened my eyes and knew that Saturday was finally here. I jumped out of bed and threw off my pajamas and put on jeans and a long sleeve shirt and some thick socks. I ran down the stairs and Mom helped put my hair in a French braid so it wouldn’t get in my face.
“Mom, are you done yet?”
“If you sit still I can finish. I didn’t know that you would be this excited to help me in the garden today?”
“Nope, I’m going to learn how to roller blade today. Sarah and Claire are gonna teach me.”
“Haha. Tell them that I said good luck.”
I gave my mom a look of astonishment and annoyance.
“Mom, I’m gonna be fine.”
“Remember to take it slowly. I don’t want you coming back home in pieces.”
“Okay, I love you.”
“Love you too.”
I opened the white door and pushed the button to have the main garage door open so Sarah and Claire could help me put on my rollerblades. As the main garage door opened, I decided that this was the perfect time to put on my helmet and knee and elbow pads. I knew Mom would be checking out the window to see if I was wearing everything. I was so excited about learning, but as I was sliding each foot into place, I started having second thoughts.
“Hey Sam, you ready?” Sarah asked.
“Hey guys, maybe we should do this on another day.” I answered.
“Why? Today is perfect. You’re not scared are you?” Claire asked, in a reassuring tone.
“No, I’m not scared. My mom said that she needs some help in the garden today.” I lied. I was honestly scared to death about getting on those rollerblades. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell them that.
“Sure…maybe we should walk inside and see if you really have to help Mrs. Lizzy today. Cause we both know that you hate doing yard work, nothing against Mrs. Lizzy.”
“No!!!...Don’t go inside! Okay, so I’m scared. You two have been rollerblading so much longer than I have and y’all are naturals and I know that I am gonna suck at it. So here is a deal, how about we just tell everyone that I did it and call it a day? “
“Nope, Sam, you are going to do great. Plus the only way Sarah and I are ‘naturals’ is because we practice all the time. So grab your blades and put them on and let’s do this.”
As I was putting each for into my brand new clean and shiny blades, I knew that by the end of the day they would not look like that anymore. I fastened my buckle on my blades to prevent them from falling out from under me. I stood up slowly and grabbed Sarah’s hand and Claire’s hand. They carefully led me down the driveway and over the dirt and stones. They helped me get to a smooth piece of road and they helped me rollerblade to their house so they could put on their blades and then we could rollerblade together.
Halfway to Sarah and Claire’s house, I started to feel confident in myself and I decided to let go of their hands and start to rollerblade, or so I thought.
“Sarah, Claire, I’m doing it. I’m actually skating.” I said with the biggest expression of accomplishment on my face.
“Umm…sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re not rollerblading, you are walking.” Claire replied.
“What do you mean?” The look on my face immediately vanished. I looked at Claire thinking that she must be pulling my leg.
“Sam, you have to glide your feet on the road. Try not to pick them up as much.” Sarah answered.
So I tried. I put one foot in front of the other and tried not to pick them up as much. I will say this; it was extremely hard learning something so foreign to me. It took me quite a few tries to tell my feet to glide on the road rather than step. By this time, we had already arrived at Sarah and Claire’s house. They both helped me get up the driveway and guided me to a chair to sit down on while they went to get their rollerblades. Of course, only I would be the one to fall out of a stationary chair. Sarah and Claire had their backs to me looking for their rollerblades, but when they heard a ‘thump’ behind them, they saw me on the ground with my feet somehow tangled in the chair.
“Sam, are you okay?” Sarah asked while attempting to hold back a laugh. Claire had already busted out laughing.
“Yea, my butt hurts though. A lot.” I was trying very hard to hold back tears. I did not want to ruin the day. I was having so much fun, and I knew that if I started crying then the day would be over.
“Well, that is something that you are going to have to get used to very fast.” Claire answered. Her laughing fit was almost at its end.
“Oh man, my butt is gonna be sore and bruised before dinner even starts.”
After making sure that I was really okay, they went back to finding her rollerblades. Sarah had found hers first and put them on as Claire was grabbing hers. Sarah stood up after fastening up her rollerblades, and started skating around me showing how easy it gets after some practice.
“So, was I pretty close to getting it right?” I asked Sarah.
“Yeah, I think so. Just work on trying to lift your feet as little as possible. Look at this. I’m going to show you an easier way to learn style of skating. Watch me a couple of times and then let’s see you try it.” Sarah answered.
I watched Sarah skate up and down the driveway. She way she skated was so graciously. It was as if she wasn’t even using any energy to move. She showed me again and this time I looked at how her feet moved. They never lifted off the ground. She swerved her feet in a mirror like wavy motion.
“Okay, now let’s see you try that.” Sarah encouraged.
“Alright, I’ll try it. Only, I would prefer to try it on the main road rather than on the driveway, less ways for me to fall and hurt myself. Is that okay with you?” I asked.
“Sure, that’s fine with me.” Sarah answered. “Do what you are more comfortable with. That is the only way you are going to be able to learn this.”
So I crawled on my hands and knees down the driveway. I wasn’t going to attempt to glide down the driveway. That was just an invite to getting hurt. As I reached the point where the main road hit the driveway, Sarah and Claire were already there to help me get back on my feet and guided me to the middle of the road. When I was ready, Sarah and Claire both gave me a gentle push and I was off. I was trying exceedingly hard not to lift my feet, but to swerve my feet in the same mirror like wave motion that Sarah had shown me. It took me a couple tries to actually get my footing right, but eventually, I got it. I was officially rollerblading. I did it!
“I’m doing it, I’m actually rollerblading. This is so much fun. I love you guys. Thanks for teaching me!” I said with joy.
“No problem. Now let’s skate!” Sarah and Claire both said in response.
We skated for the rest of the day and by the time the sun had finally set, the three of us were so tired and our feet were hurting so much, that we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I knew that we would be skating a lot more now that I knew how to do it.