Saturday, April 2, 2011

Yes, I seem to be in 8th grade at a roller skating rink

I realized something today while I was out for my run. Beyond the usual OMG I need to get in better shape. And that is, I'm mentally stuck in 8th a roller rink...on the sidelines during couples skate.

How I realized is that, when I run, I listen to the radio. I just like to switch around stations and be surprised. There's currently this one oldies love song station on one of my presets.

It's sort of a new station here in Minneapolis, and I like it because they play Elton John and stuff like that. But I started noticing that a lot of times when I'd land on it, my mind kept being sucked back to this roller skating scenario. Me with my three 8th grade galpals, Robin, Sue, and Cheryl, at this roller rink we'd go to every weekend, our hair all pretty, hoping to meet boys, of course.

And we'd be skating in circles all night to the Eagles or Journey or whatever, but a few times a night they'd clear the rink and puts the lights low, and fire up the disco ball and play "Xanadu" by Olivia Newton John or "I Still Go Crazy" by Barry Manilow or something like that, and it would be couples skate, and a boy had to ask you to skate. And of course, no boys EVER asked me. I was a chubby, slobby brown haired girl. (FYI they always asked Cheryl.)

So, back to me out running. At first I blamed this all on this radio station, thinking, Wow, what's up with this station? They are playing all these old rollerskating couples-skate songs. WhatEV!! But then I realized, okay, maybe I haven't heard these songs for years, but it wasn't like I only ever heard them at the roller rink. But they only remind me of the roller rink. And I got the idea that I'm a bit fixated there. At that roller rink.

I do think people get fixated on places in time, on incidents that they go back to really easily. Sometimes these incidents are big and dramatic, like a violent death or a horrible fire, but I think most of the time, the place a person can't stop being drawn back to is more emblematic than dramatic. Emblematic and mundane.

Like being a wallflower at a roller rink. I'm stuck other places of course, but when I think about it hard, all the places I'm fixated relate to being unseen in some way, and not always on a romantic level, but that's all I'll say about that, because this isn't that kind of post.

It's a writerly post! As a writer, I find it easy to pin characters to a highly dramatic and formative experience, and less easy to get a sense of the quieter kind of experience that also shapes them, that emblematic yet mundane place that a character returns to. I can tell you what that place is for Justine Jones, but I need to think about it for Packard, and for the others. It would be a good thing for me to figure out.

Some of this thinking spins off from something I learned from that show, In Treatment. Do you know it? It's about this psychotherapist named Paul (played by Gabriel Byrne) and it takes place almost entirely in his sessions with people. Paul is like the Sherlock Holmes of people. He’ll talk to a person for 20 minutes, and at the end of the session, he knows all this secret stuff about them, and when he reveals it, it’s like this magic trick.

One of the coolest things I've learned from In Treatment is that the random anecdotes people tell over and over about their life aren't random at all. They are frequently like secret codes to important things about them. At first, I thought it was just a convention of the show, but then, I started listening to the recurring stories of people who I know well and I realized that they are startlingly revealing. It kind of blew my mind.

The roller rink thing is different than one of those anecdotes. Obviously I'm telling it here, but it's not a story, it's more an internal thing, but I think it's the sort of thing that can be a character signpost, much in the way a supposedly random anecdote or fiery formative experience can be. Hmm. A Saturday thought. 


the cautionary tale said...

Oh man, I went skating with my daughter a few weeks ago. It was much easier back then. I fell and busted my you know what. I posted about skating too. I love In Treatment too!
Great post!!!

Carolyn Crane said...

OH, I have to go look at your skating post. Right, isn't that a fabulous show? Thanks for stopping by!

Pamela {Spaz} said...

The rollerskate checkout counters DO all look like that! LOL

I love In Treatment. I find it fascinating for exactly the reason you give. These events that seem so slight or trivial in our pasts have such a huge important on how we see ourselves as adults. I totally love talking like him to, using terms like "assigning emotions" and "managing perceptions". heehee.

Great post, thanks!

Beth Woodward said...

I know this wasn't the intent of your post, but it totally made me want to go out, find a roller skating rink, and skate my little heart out. I don't think I've even *seen* one of those in eons!

And yes, I, too, was always sidelined during couple skates. (During my roller skating years, though, the playlist was less Journey and Olivia Newton-John, more Boyz II Men and that one-hit-wonder guy who played Donna's abusive boyfriend on 90210. I would have preferred Journey!)

Chris said...

I'm afraid to talk to you now.

KB/KT Grant said...

You crack me up!

My co-worker just burned a copy of Xandu for me to watch.

Nicola O. said...

what a neat post!

The local skating rink is pretty popular for birthday parties for the 3rd grade and up set. Not sure how long it will last, we're still in the middle of it. :-)

Patti (Book Addict) said...

LOL, I think you pegged my feelings about the skating rink exactly :) To this day I'm miserable when I'm there with the kids for birthday parties.

Strangely enough, I used to love Xanadu...

Carolyn Crane said...

Pam: Oh, yes, managing perceptions is an awesome phrase, isn't it?

Beth: It sort of made me want to go, too.

Chris: Because of your fierce love of Barry Manilow?

KB: Uh! Nooo!

Nicola: I wonder if they are coming back..

Patti: I don't think I could walk into one without feeling bad. Also, psst: I have Xanadu on my iTunes!!

Chris said...

No, you're going to analyze my stories!

Carolyn Crane said...

Chris: Oh I already have. I have decided you have a strange passion for knitting and black cats. Very troubling! You are a menace!

Chris said...


Anonymous said...

You're bringing back painful memories of falling and having to run into things in order for me to stop.

Stephanie G
Paranormal Haven

Tumperkin said...

Oh, this is great, great. And I have this theory which is that early experiences of particular emotions are much stronger and actually more emotional than later ones, albeit the subject matter might be more objectively trivial. So that the feeling of being 13 and sidelined is a much harder thing than the same thing later in life and you have to travel back to that to understand how deep that feeling goes, or something. And it's funny how you can analyse these little anecdotes and find something really true about yourself and the same theme running through various anecdotes you recall. So no, not random at all, I think.

Bronwyn Green said...

This is an absolutely brilliant post. If it's okay with you, I'd like to share it with my writers group!

Carolyn Crane said...

Steph: Oh, poor terrible skater!

Tumperkin:I think you're onto something, for sure! Because, when we're younger, we just haven't built up so much internal strength. Yes, that is a good add to this roller rink thing.

Bronwyn: Hey, thanks! And heck, of course I would be flattered for you to want to share it in any way.

as always ♥ Carol said...

I know what you mean with the whole "God I need to get in a better shape" lol. Back to roller skating though I was also always stuck alone as couples took off it was kind of sad in a way but I'm over (I think =p). My problem has always been I'm too shy (at least when I first meet people then after that I can't shut up lol) I don't even remember the last time I when Rollerskating years ago but I kind of want to go again now anyway have a fabulous day.

as always ♥, Carol

Carolyn Crane said...

Carol: it made me want to skate again too, and also call up those old friends!

Jill Sorenson said...

Love this post! Makes me want to roller skate with you. :)

I remember people doing that swirly thing in the middle during couples skate. Two people link hands and skate in a little circle? I also saw Thriller at the rink when I was about 8. Good times.

I never went skating after we moved to CA. I wonder if it's a Midwest thing because there are very few roller rinks here.

Tez Miller said...

Think your subconscious is telling you to go skating. And you have a husband to couples-dance with ;-)