I remember picking up a fistful of sand, smooth crystals, like hourglass sand and throwing it into the eyes of a boy. Johnny or Danny or Kevin—he was not important. I was five and I knew he would cry. I remember everything about it— the sandbox in the corner of the room at Cinderella Day Care; Ms. Lee, who ran over after the boy wailed for his mother, her stern look as the words No snack formed on her lips. My hands with their gritty, half-mooned fingernails I hid in the pockets of my blue and white dress. How she found them and uncurled small sandy fists. There must have been such rage in me, to give such pain to another person. This afternoon, I saw a man pull a gold chain off the neck of a woman as she crossed the street. She cried out with a sound that bleached me. I walked on, unable to help, knowing that fire in childhood clenched deep in my pockets all the way home.
Night at the Roller Palace
After the birthday crowds thin out, after the “Hokey Pokey” and “Chicken Dance,” after the parents have towed their shaky kids like cabooses ready to decouple and the pint-sized skaters have circled the rink like a gang of meerkats spun into a 10-car pileup, you turn sideways and angle by as “Another One Bites the Dust” thumps overhead. You give a finger point to the DJ stand because, in your mind, we are soldiers in the march against time, grooving to the retro beat while the disco ball shines overhead cut crystal against rainbow walls. You glide like Mercury or Apollo Ono without wings or skin suit, in low-rider jeans that hug your body like you hug corners, pass them all on the smoothed-out parquet floor, worn down by time and rhythm. The trick is to make it look effortless, remind them that your quickness is a kind of love. You are the spark between wood and wheel. And when your cranky kids hang out by the wall ready to go, holding those eight wheels by their brown leather tongues, you give them a wave and keep circling, Just one more song, you say. This is your “me” time. It’s all-skate. You’ve got your whole self in— That’s what it’s all about.