I can remember my favorite birthday party as a kid in great detail. I was turning 10, all my classmates had been invited, and I had the coveted Barbie dress cake (you know, the one where a bakery puts a Barbie on a cake stand and builds her dress out of a cake?!? I wonder if I can get one for my 32nd birthday… ) But most importantly - my party was at the roller rink. It was the 90s, so of course having your party at the roller rink was just the coolest thing.
If someone sent me a birthday party invitation at the rink, I was there -- even if it was for a kid I didn’t know or like because I loved the thrill of being on 8 wheels. I felt like I could fly, and like anything was possible as long as I had on quads. Now it was my birthday -- my turn -- I was on skates AND the center of attention at the party. I got to go out and do the special birthday skate dance -- I was in my element. I’m not really sure when my roller skating days stopped -- if it was middle school or just the dying industry of the rink, but somewhere along the way I took off my quads and stopped.
During undergrad at Texas Tech, roller skating peaked my interest again through roller derby. The movie Whip It (2009) featuring Elliot Page came out around this time, and I was hooked. I watched the movie all the time, intrigued by the life of roller derby girls. Imagine my delight when I realized Lubbock actually had a roller derby team! I was too busy (or honestly too shy/nervous) to try out myself, but I loved going to the bouts. My college roommate, Simon, and I would spend roomie nights together with the derby girls. I kept wanting to try out, but something kept me from going for it.
In 2020 when the pandemic hit, I was looking for an enjoyable, safe, way to work out. I don’t know about you, but I hate running. Hate it. It’s not the physical act of running I don’t enjoy, but I just find the whole concept kind of boring (for me personally). Instead of going for a dreaded jog, I was scrolling through instagram one night and couldn’t believe what I saw -- a girl in her 30s around my age skating around on quads. Beautiful, colorful vibrant quads. She was moving around with such ease, dancing on 8 wheels with a beaming smile. THAT -- that was what I was looking for! Of course, it made total sense that I would be immediately drawn to roller skating now, it’s what I loved as a kid. It just never occurred to me to put them on now. But, why? Roller skating is for kids, right? Roller skating was left in the 90s, right? Or if you’re an adult roller skating, it can only be for a derby team? Wrong! Not only is roller skating coming back in a BIG way, but it’s so incredibly fun -- who cares if it’s just you and a set of skates at the park?
I decided then and there that I was going to get a pair of quads. To my surprise, many other people had the same idea during the pandemic. Quads skates became almost impossible to find. The major brands like Moxi and Impala were completely sold out with restocks months away. I knew if I was going to try to skate, I needed skates soon before the Chicago winters kept me stuck inside. Luckily, my husband plays hockey and knew of a small skate shop in Canada he ordered gear from before. I checked their website, and it was fate! They had one pair left of these adorable aqua blue Chaya skates and they were MY size! I snagged them immediately, and within a week I was back on 8 wheels.
Getting back on them wasn’t easy. I struggled with the laces and quickly fell outside (that’s what pads and helmets are for!) Even still, I couldn’t believe how exhilarated I felt. Sure, I was wobbly and out of practice, but being back on skates felt so natural and freeing. It immediately took me back to those joyful childhood memories at the rink -- going as fast as I can and jamming out to music. I even started my skating playlist off with pop and RnB hits of the 90s to keep that feeling going. Each week, I was carving out time in my daily schedule to skate. Sure, in part because it was a workout, but mainly because it was important for me to schedule that feeling into my day. An hour on skates could make me forget about even the hardest day at work. Over a year later, I’m still on my Chayas, and even got a pair of Moxis - a girl’s gotta have options, amiright? I still carve out time each week to skate. I even spent some time in a rink during the winter (with a mask and social distancing, of course).
My time on skates made me realize nostalgia can be such a powerful thing -- bringing me back to moments that give me joy and hold a fond place in my memories. It’s the main reason I find such joy in roller skating now -- it takes me to a happy place from my childhood and I’m reminded of all the fun times I had on skates as a kid. As an adult, and a business owner, I generally have a hard time embracing moments where I am truly at peace; Finding the balance of the self care that comes with my weekly roller skating, not only reminds me of yesteryears, but carries the pure joy of childhood into the now.
I’m not surprised that one of the reasons I love roller skating so much is the same reason I love marshmallows. Remember roasting s’mores over the fire at Girl Scouts? I do. Marshmallows and s’mores still reminds me of warm summer nights at my PaPaw’s place,using actual sticks we found on the ground to roast the marshmallows. Everything we do here at XO is touched by nostalgia in some way, and it’s why our customers love our brand. Today, our gourmet flavors might offer a unique experience, but the feelings of childhood, camping, sleepovers, and pure joy are the same.
As for me, I am eagerly anticipating warmer weather so I can spend more time outdoors -- s’mores and skating are waiting. :)