In third grade I spent most of my recess time alone, dizzy and sweaty from spinning on the tire swing that hung from a giant tree on the playground.
“Dirt Figure Skating” is what I called it, as I pretended to be a champion figure skater like Michelle Kwan or Sasha Cohen with my own peculiar versions of axel-jumps and carry lifts above the dirt. My teachers observed from a distance, chuckling and shaking their heads, “There goes Catie…”
I coughed as my lungs filled with the cloud of dust and dirt that enveloped me, but I continued to make up new moves and turns. My stomach against the core of the tire, I felt the delicate touch of the warm sun on my neck while humming tunes from The Little Mermaid II.
Closing my eyes and then opening them again quickly, I wished my fairy god-mother would show up on the playground and change my black Mary Janes into beautiful white skates. I had this idea she would only grant my wish when I wasn’t looking, and so I kept my eyes closed hoping I’d have something to brag about when I returned to class.
As I listened to the furious steps on the black pavement of twenty elementary school boys playing soccer, I grinned. Their screams of “I’m open!” and “Kick it to me!” only added to the intensity of my imaginary figure skating competition. I looked down at my plaid, dark blue uniform and pretended it was a purple velvet skating dress covered in shiny little crystals. My boring school jumper waved in the air as I spun around over and over, just as it did on the TV for the beautiful figure skaters.
Hands clung tightly to the braided rope, I spun without fear of blisters and ignored the pointy fibers that scratched my cheeks and my arms. I watched the world around me run in circles but kept my focus on the brick wall to prevent getting sick to my stomach. The stench of the rubber tire alone was nauseating.
I begged myself to take a break, but I refused.
I was completely entranced and happy in my own world.