If you grew up in the ’80s, you’ll remember how big a deal roller skates were. I really wanted a pair of my own. So I scrounged up bits of saved allowances and trotted down the street to a neighbor’s garage sale where I found an outgrown pair of white roller skates with red laces. They were the kind of skates you buy when you are serious about skating – plain and a little beat up, but the sort that lasts for years and years. I traded my life savings for those skates and walked home elated.
Then my mom told me that she had bought me brand new roller skates with a sparkly Rainbow Brite on them and shiny colored wheels and velcro closures. She shrugged and put the bag in the car so she could return those fancy skates. No sense in owning two pairs, right?
I felt sick. I could have had shiny sparkly brand new Rainbow Brite roller skates but instead I had beat up plain white used skates. I felt like my decision to buy the old skates had irrevocably changed the course of my life. I would have been a different little girl with sparkly new skates, I just knew it.
Of course I wouldn’t have been a different little girl in the Rainbow Brite skates. I would have been the same little girl, but with different skates and a few more My Little Ponies or Babysitters Club books to show for my money.
It strikes me that I’m still using this false framework to think about my life twenty-five years later. “Help!” I think with great anguish (because I’m always super dramatic in my internal dialogues), “I am not living the Rainbow Brite Roller Skate Life! Nobody knows the real me!” I act like my lifestyle determines my personality. This is, of course, false. The truth is, I’m a little bit Practical Skates and a little bit Rainbow Brite Skates. My college friends would probably say, “Cat? Practical? Are you kidding me?” And the people who know me at this stage of my life would say, “Catherine? Fun and sparkly? Yeah, I’m not seeing that.”
Maybe I’m setting up a false dichotomy. Maybe the Practical Roller Skate life and the Rainbow Brite Roller Skate life are not mutually exclusive. Maybe I could slap a little bedazzled Rainbow Brite action on my Practical Roller Skate life and have the best of both worlds.
This post is based on a writing prompt I found in a book. If you’d like, feel free to answer the prompt yourself in the comments. For some reason I remember…
Photo credit: Wharble, where you can find all sorts of ’80s memorabilia. And yeah, I am pretty sure those were the skates.