Before a half-hour passed, the arena filled up with every age group and stage of life—grandparents watching their grandchildren from the stands, parents teaching their three-year-olds to skate, couples holding hands, teenage girls wearing less clothing than they needed to stay warm, and teenage boys dropping clumps of snow down the teenage girls’ backs.
Ice skating is one of life’s greatest equalizers.
Once you’re on the ice, no one cares if you’re like me, wearing skates you’ve had since you were 13, or if you’re like my husband, who used his Christmas money from my grandpa to buy his first pair of skates that afternoon.
No one cares if you’re a figure skater or hockey player, or if you’re like the woman we sat next to while lacing our skates who was getting on the ice for the first time in 23 years.
No one cares about the color of your skin or whether you’re rich or poor. Everyone is fighting the same battle to stay on their feet on the ice.
Even though my husband and I grew up in completely different worlds, ice skating is something we can share. I tell him about how I learned to skate on the rough ice of the river not far from my parents’ house, and about the ice rink my dad built in the field behind his work shed so my brother could practice his hockey moves. He tells me about the year-round rinks in Washington, DC, and we reminisce about the outdoor rinks surrounded by Christmas lights we’ve gone to together.
On the ice rink, parts of our lives that were separate come together. We have a history together before we ever met.
When we talk about equalizers, things that cut across all humanity, we usually focus on the big things—death, marriage, birth. But we don’t have any control over those big things. Not really. We do have control over the smaller ones and how often we seek them out.
I know ice skating won’t change the world, but it gives us one of those moments when we remember that all people are equal and valuable and that, if we look hard enough, we all have things in common. And maybe if we seek out more of those little equalizers, we’ll start to find that the gaps that divide us start to look a little bit smaller too.
Do you have a favorite ice skating memory? What other little equalizers have you come across?