A Toronto Transformation

Diamonds and Ice

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Photo Courtesy of the Australian (how perfect is my sweater?)

This weekend I decided to take my own advice and embrace the ridiculously cold weather we’d been having in the city. So I attired myself in multiple layers of leggings, sweaters, and socks, topped it off with a fuzzy hat and dragged some wonderfully game friends down to Harbourfront for one of their DJ Skate Nights.

We were all a little apprehensive. I think I might have been the one with the most skating experience, just from going to the rink a lot as a kid: working my way up from bob skates about as soon as I could walk (how Canadian of me) to pushing around a traffic cone or a chair (although I liked it better when I got to sit on the chair while my dad whirled me around the ice) to racing around with the hockey players on elementary school trips. However, I hadn’t actually laced up a pair of skates in a good nine years. I just hoped it would all come back to me.

Fortified with hot chocolate and baileys and the insanely delicious lamington cake the Australian brought along for her somewhat unorthodox Australia day, we brave souls tentatively helped each other on to the ice.

Almost immediately I was wishing for that chair, or heck, even a traffic cone. But slowly and steadily we made first one, then another lap around the rink, losing track of, then finding each other again, laughing at our own ineptitude and trying to resist the life-threatening urge to dance to “Run the World.”

By about the tenth lap I had pushed through the nostalgic shin pain and was having a grand old time zipping around and chatting away with one of my friends when suddenly the motion of the rink changed. Everyone (and there were a lot of us) slowed down and then actually stopped. I raised a questioning eyebrow at my friend and she pointed to the centre of the rink, where, sure enough, a man was down on one knee, proposing to his girlfriend.

While I doubt it would ever be considered viral video material next to all of the crazy and elaborate stunt proposals that are out there, and from what I could see, there were no friends about, taping the whole thing for youtube posterity, let me tell you, this moment was electric. Every damned person on the rink held their breath until that man got up, kissed her crying face, and victoriously (and mercifully) announced, “She said yes!!!”

I may have screamed a little (and nearly caused a complete domino collapse of every skater out there with my excited wiggling and jumping about).

I stopped wiggling as the ghost of another harbour, another ring, another nervous and hopeful man superimposed themselves over the scene. But I pushed them away.

One day, I’ll get there again, I told myself, gliding and weaving my way through the crowd, and breathing the frozen lake air, grinning as the exhilarating feeling of finding my balance and hitting my stride and that need to just fly around the rink took me over.

And it will be scary at first. It’s always scarier after you fall, but the thing about falling on the ice is that if you stay down, you’re in danger of, at worst, being run over by people with blades on their feet, and at best, freezing your ass off. And who needs that?

So you get up, and you try again, and sooner or later it will all come back to you.

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