10/10/2012 06:01 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2012

Friday Dreariness

Every Friday, I eat dinner at 6 p.m. -- insanely early for my Italian family -- and argue with my mom about the time before we get ourselves into the car (still fuming) and drive to the large, cement block ice skating rink situated in one of the worst neighborhoods in Houston. Every Friday, I see the same group of people, plus or minus one, and every Friday we share the same ice from 8-9:30 p.m.

Over the years, I have come to recognize the old teacher with the bent back who always wears his cowboy hat and grimly smiles at his students. I salute the old man whose leg is perennially bent as he repeats the same spin Friday after Friday, never getting better. Every Friday, I grumble to myself about the obnoxious 10-year-olds who skate badly and wildly, screaming the whole time. Every Friday, I smile, mostly to myself, and pretend to greet the ladies with whom I have never talked. Every Friday, this ragtag group of people, always practicing the same moves, never improving, shares the same ice.

It would seem that after five years of skating with them, I would feel comfortable hanging around them. But no. Week after week, I feel awkward about practicing my fancy moves in front of the viewers -- unlike many of the Friday skaters, I am under 50 years old but over 10, so I am able to do the moves neither age group can. I can feel the piercing stares of the extended family that has grown over the years and I perceive the admiring glances of parents who wish their children would practice instead of playing tag. As I skate, my mood shifts from content and energetic to sleepy and gloomy.

By the end of the night, instead of focusing on skating and actually landing something, I spend so much time thinking about my age and how my skating just does not improve that I end up becoming worse.

A few days ago, however, on a new Friday, I reached the rink and the enthusiasm from the first moment I put my blade on the ice kept mounting until at the end of the night. I was still landing doubles and my patterns were still sharp and my spins actually had some energy to them. I finally realized that even if my skating has not changed, that is not a reason to just give up. Although I may never become an Olympic athlete, there is nothing to obstruct me from pursuing the sport that has been a staple of my life since I turned five years old. There is no reason to believe that I cannot inspire those crazy, screaming kids to try the spin I'm doing, or to calm down and stroke decently. Although I will never become much better, they will, and the pervasive gloominess of the Friday skates will never help them. And of course, skating while being gloomy, just causes me more tailbone pain as I crash devastatingly after every jump or spin or move.