My last few lessons, I’m happy to report, have been on turns: kilian choctaws (not on a straight line, but rotating counter-clockwise and letting the right hip go back beforehand), outside mohawks (ten-fox, fourteen step, Viennese), and those wonderful left outside three-turns. It’s quite exciting.
When I do three-turns, several things might happen. I might press into the edge in order to rise and be perfectly balanced, using my foot to trace the turn perfectly just as my free foot comes in, and holding the edge out of the turn with control and just the proper amount of core checking. Or any of the following parts might fall out of place: hips, free leg, free side, head, shoulders (knees and toes, knees and toes). For instance, I might just pop up, reset my upper body to balance, pause until my foot comes in, turn, then fall into the inside edge while waving my arms wildly in order to balance.
I am making progress, but there’s always the occasional appearance of these former versions of my three-turn. I am like the skating version of Sybil, that book (and movie) about the woman with the multiple personalities that keep popping out at inappropriate times. I’m hoping that in end my main skating personality will prevail over these other three-turning Jos, though since these different versions have been around for a while they may take some time to suppress. These are old habits that are hard to break. I even remember a lesson with my freestyle coach at Princeton, Andrea, who told me to stop popping up on my skating knee (“like a toaster.”)
Imagining myself sharing my body with various generations of Jo’s three-turn is not, of course, a new idea. There is the version of this in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, in which the old man Krapp listens with both impatience and nostalgia to the significant events of his past captured on audiotape (an aside: this play opens with his memorable savoring of the word “spooool,” which my friend Dan used to imitate with a certain amount of glee whenever we mentioned the play). And there is Bruce Springsteen who, in the interview I quoted from in my last entry, also talks about how the different selves we are at various points in our life still live with us.
There is no part of yourself that you leave behind; it can’t be done. You can’t remove any part of yourself, you can only manage the different parts of yourself. There’s a car, it’s filled with people. The 12-year-old kid’s in the back. So’s the 22-year-old. So is the 40-year-old. So is the 50-year-old guy that’s done pretty well, so’s the 40-year-old guy that likes to screw up. So’s the 30-year-old guy that wants to get his hands on his wheel and put the pedal to the metal, and drive you into a tree. That’s never going to change. Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s getting thrown out by the roadside. The doors are shut, locked and sealed, until you go into your box. But who’s driving makes a really big difference about where the car is going. And if the wrong guy’s at the wheel, it’s crash time. You want the latest model of yourself at the wheel, the part of you that’s sussed some of this out and can drive you someplace where you want to go. [Interview by Mark Hagen The Observer, 17 January 2009]
So skating with me I’ve got the 21-year-old absolutely giddy with excitement but with no idea of what she’s doing, the 25-year-old with a few more years of skating experience (plus a four-time try at passing the European waltz, which I swear I only conquered by being dosed up with cold medicine), the 35-year-old just getting back into ice dancing after a few years off, the 46-year-old just getting back (two children later), and the me, now 54, who’s been back ever since. Hey, you guys, I love you dearly, but I’m driving today, okay?