With this rink being only a hundred feet from my home, the number of shovels left behind with my last name on it, and that my brother and I were always on the ice, it was known, in the neighborhood, as the “Burns’ Rink.” It also happened to be named that because my home was the place for the neighborhood kids to layer their clothes, warm up, tend to injuries and put on, and take off, their bladed shoes. My mom would position a kitchen chair, in the small back entrance, so one could tie up their skates (but it also created a protective barrier to the waxed kitchen floor). Often there was an overflow of friends, wanting to play on the ice, and they would sit on the stairs, heading down to our rec room, to tie their skates.
The winters were cold and the ice was hard. My eyelashes were hanging posts for icicles and my nose, ears, hands and feet were numb. And despite the freezing temperatures and clouded breath, my spirit ran fully on the ice (as well as my nose).
On the ice, time stood still and I would find myself in another world. And yet, the whoops of joy and sounds of competition were heard throughout the neighborhood as everyone battled for the imaginary prize. And if you were closer, you could hear the cut of an edge and the spray of shaved ice.
There were times when others had to go home (because it was dinner time or it was too cold outside), and I was alone on the ice. The rink was a place where I lost time, all my senses seemed alive and every emotion was fully felt. My actions were ruled by my intuition and not by rules. Every time on the ice, I challenged my skills and asked “what if…?” And it seemed like there were no boundaries, but only possibilities.
My body has changed as I have a growth on my spine. I miss the ice. I miss the ice a great deal. With all the emotions I experienced on the ice, one emotion tied this entire experience of time, space and sensation together, and it was joy. The lessons I learned on the ice, still carry me today. I know that I need to nurture whatever activity or pursuit that encourages me to feel at home, and that cheers me on to reach for my best. I truly believe we can change the world when we are, at home, in the joy of it.