Misadventures at the City Center ice rink

Staff writer bravely attempts to learn how to ice skate again


Photo courtesy of Jy Nowlin

Staff writer Dallas Nowlin skating at the Kristi Yamaguchi Ice Rink in City Center. The rink is open unti1 Jan. 8.

When I found out I could learn to ice skate again for The Californian, I was ecstatic.
I’ve only skated a few times years ago, so this would be an amazing opportunity to relive my childhood and re-learn a skill.
I arrived at the San Ramon City Center on Dec. 3, rain gushing from the gray skies and dripping onto my clothes. “Not a great day to wear pajama pants!” I thought to myself.
I headed over to Philz to get some drinks to warm myself up after being attacked by the rain and to get ready to kick off this experience.
I got myself a warm latte and a mediocre cinnamon roll as fuel for my ice skating endeavors. Stepping out of Philz, I noticed that the rain was pounding down harder now.
I shrugged and headed for the rink.
When I arrived at the Kristi Yamaguchi Holiday Ice Rink, I expected no crowd because of the downpour at 10 a.m.
But of course a little girl was having her birthday party here, so the rink was packed. This was surely going to be a chaotic experience.
With a pack of five-year-old girls in one place, you never know if you’ll come out alive. And the odds decrease dramatically if you are at an ice rink.
The very kind staff handed me a pair of skates. For fun, I also got one of the funny-looking neon blue seal-shaped skating aid, named Bobby the Seal, that little kids use when they are learning how to ice skate.
Looking back, I realized I don’t think I could have survived without Bobby.
I slid myself onto the ice, and there was an instant flashback of 12-year-old me skating for the first time at Brentwood on Ice.
Slowly, I propelled myself, one foot after the other, and used the railing and Bobby the seal skating aide to slowly make my way around the rink.
About two laps through, my feet really started to hurt. I mean they started to hurt really, really badly.
The pain came all of a sudden and when I looked down at my feet I quickly realized the problem.
I was wearing two left skates .
I switched out my skates, and suddenly things became a lot more fun. I also tried skating without Bobby the seal to help me.
Suddenly, I had purpose. I found that I could skate much quicker, going an exhilarating one mile per hour .
By the way, no one tells you how damn scary skating can be. I was terrified of falling and snapping my ankle in half the entire time.
In fact, it got to the point a few times when I was really not enjoying myself and simply wanted to leave. But my best advice is to force yourself to keep skating. Tell yourself, “Just one more lap,” and before you know it, it’ll be fun again.
I took my own advice and I enjoyed it. It helped that my dad showed me what he knew, which was how to push back one skate at a time to move myself forward. He even got me to get off the railing, even if it was only for a few seconds.
I learned that the key to skating is persistence. Take baby steps and just work your way from hugging the wall of the rink to just touching it to speeding around the rink without a care in the world.
I was about 10 laps in when the skaters all seemed to be taking a break, so I stopped and looked out into the road. The beautiful San Ramon grass glistened in the sunlight, the wind wisped past me, and the cars seemed to fly through the streets like majestic birds.
A grin spread across my face, and in such an unlikely situation, I found myself with an odd sense of peace and artistic appreciation. The beauty of our town just hit me.
I left the rink and headed with my family back to the car. I managed to make it out alive from the gaggle of little girls, survived the pain of wearing two left skates, and enjoyed myself even through the rain and cold.
Although I was soaked and the rain had caused the pomade in my hair to get into my eyes, I still wouldn’t have picked anything else to do with my Saturday morning.