February 1998, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
Michelle Kwan was skating in the Winter Olympics around the same time as my 10th birthday party. My friends and I were supremely impressed.
We turned off the lights in the foyer of my 100-plus-year-old childhood home. We rigged up some white portable can lights my mom was using for some other less important purpose. We needed spotlights on our hardwood floor ice skating rink.
We skated around in our thick socks, twirling into camel spins and leaping into single Salchow jumps. We ran into the tall fake plant with our twirls and rattled the old grandfather clock with our leaps.
I felt so free. So uninhibited. I wasn’t paying attention to what everyone else was doing or how they were doing it as I so often do in social settings as a now adult. I didn’t notice if my shirt and pants were tugging on my stomach weirdly or riding up too high. I didn’t look around to see who saw when I slipped awkwardly on the hardwood floor.
I was happy and confident. My 10-year-old body — already showing signs of awkward preteen years — felt loose to jump and soar and fly and punch the air as I threw up my hands for my final bow.