Monday, August 2, 2010


I'm sitting alone in the gallery with the foundation of the quilt exhibit and I'm feeling rather emotional. Some of this happens every time I see the quilt now that such a large section is assembled and hanging. A lot more of this is because of the things I brought into the space today - one bin filled with all the envelopes in which the squares from out of state came, along with a mountain of ephemera dating back to the moment roller derby and I first met. I'd forgotten how much stuff I'd saved over the past three seasons, and all these feelings are cascading out of me in a way that's hard for me to process.

I found the flyer from the first bout I ever attended, when I knew down to my bones that I needed to do this. I found the invoice for my first pair of derby skates. I found the tag from the first BDD shirt that housed my newly approved derby name (back when twoevils only took a week or two to approve the names). I found letters from Mt. Auburn confirming that my right knee's x-ray came back "normal" along with prescriptions for PT and a diagram for a particularly complex knee exercise. I found birthday cards and thank you cards from freshmeat I "mama-ed," and these cards brought me to tears. I found pins and programs and wristbands and stickers from countless bouts.

I feel like I'm digging through a whole life's worth of memories, but it's only been three years since I started. The thing is, derby careers are so terribly short. It's hard on your body and your mind, and I know that we're all burning like candles doused in rocket fuel. We're giving off all of our light RIGHT NOW with such ferocity and there's only so much of us to use up before we burn out and it all ends. We do this sport at the price of our knees and our backs, and for some, our friendships and our marriages.

Today a few of my close friends and favorite skaters in a few different leagues told me that this is their last season. They're leaving because they know that their light is burning out. Reading these messages when I'm literally ankle-deep in piles of derby memories is tough. It reminds me how much I'll miss these people who have helped shape my derby life. It also reminds me that I can't do this forever, and one of these days I'll have to prepare my good-byes too.

My greatest wish is to retire when I want to, not when I have to. My second greatest wish is that I'll want to retire a long, long time from now. I love this sport with a fierceness that I've only felt for my immediate family and my dearest, oldest, truest friends. I love derby more than chocolate and sleeping late. I feel a deep level of affection for it like I do for my dog and cat. One of my favorite MassArt professors phrased it so elegantly: "This is my church, and these are my vestments." At first, it sounded a bit strong to my thoroughly non-religious ears. However, as crazy as it sounds, I've found a very powerful faith through roller derby - faith in myself unlike I've ever had before.

Roller derby might just be a fun, rough game on wheels, but to me it's so much more. Roller derby has made my outside match my inside. Through it I've learned a comfort with myself I've always needed but never knew was missing. It's almost as good as falling in love, and like love, I want to hold onto all of this for as long as I can.


M said...

your last paragraph was perfect. Exactly how I feel- And I'm still a rookie for another few weeks. Perfect. Your words are beautiful.

Dreadnought said...

Thanks for that. I really appreciate your kind words. :D