This is the diary of a rinky fresh baby dink meat doll. As in, I've been skating with my league for mere weeks. The story goes, I went to a bout, fell in love & got on my first pair of quad speed skates this summer, did a derby boot camp and skated along the trails of my city as often as possible this desk-busy summer. At the end of the summer, through the whiskey aches from the Friday before and on two hours of restless sleep, I somehow, miraculously, made it through tryouts. Now I skate in the pool trying to prove my dedication and devotion to this phenomena known as the roller derby to the teams and to myself.
The rinky meat rotates through the league’s three home teams–and today, my group of fresh dolls skated with the home team with a wrecker reputation. We began a paceline, hitting the apexes of the track, cutting a diamond into it. I struggled to keep up, huffing and puffing, stomp-skating, the pace feeling more like a sprint than a casual jaunt. Weaving through the line cut the last bit of oxygen to my brain, so when I got to the front, I began skating in a vague lateral motion around the track, cluttering up the line.
There’s an art installation on the stairwells of my school, called “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.” I like to slowly meander and look around me as I decline or ascend the staircase—this week its about health care, with photos of mid-century hospitals, creative demonstrators in costumes, and lots of charts. Its graphics remind me of the vintage-mechanical potential of roller derby and the demonstrators, with some slight modifications to signs and costume color, would fit right in rinkside at a bout.
I excused myself, red in the face from mortification and exertion, and skated in circles as fast as I could without cutting off brain circulation around the outside of the track. "Roller derby is a metaphor in life,” the pack, the movement, the flirting with danger, the challenge, the control, the fleshy-shell dramas and politicking. This metaphor has been joined with the platitude “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop," echoing through my helmet in practice. I've been picking up speed, and sometimes I slow down, but I won't stop.