Apparently the universe really really wants me to learn figure skating.

One of my friends on Facebook was complaining that she was bored senseless by her workout, so those of us who were awake at 2am were suggesting things that were less stupefying. I told her the last time I ran out of things to do, I started trying to figure out how to do axels on the floor. One of her friends asked if I was a figure skater, and about four exchanges later she was going SKATING IS THE BEST THING LET ME TEACH YOU IT! She used to skate competitively as a tween, but had to stop before she destroyed her knees and ankles.

I want to see if it's really as much fun as it looks. She gets to be a coach, which is the traditional thing you do when you've had to retire from competition, and I get a few experimental lessons. I'm not going to let her do it for free forever -- maybe for cheap, but not for free -- but at least I can find out if I'm a wild hazard on the ice before committing. I did warn her, repeatedly, that I hadn't been on skates for fifteen years and was starting from zero.

I figure, if I'm not hopeless -- and I'm probably not, I've been dancing off and on most of my life and I haven't fallen over screwing around in the studio -- I'll keep doing it. Skate rental is about $5; new skates are $30-40 on Amazon. If I stick with it long enough to spend that much on rentals, I'll think about buying a pair of my own. It is something you can do without a lot of money or fuss in the winters here; there's open skating at the Boston Common Frog Pond and a couple places in Cambridge when they're frozen over, and indoor rinks in Somerville and Allston that have free skate for a few hours in the afternoons. Public skate seems to close at the end of March, but the Somerville rink looks bookable all year long, although worryingly enough, I can't find their rates.

I'm trying to manage my expectations here. Do I want to compete? Frankly, no. Landing an axel looks like fun. Landing a triple axel looks suspiciously like work. I would also like all my joints to still be serviceable when I'm old. Do I want to whiz around and do pretty dance-y things on ice? Yes. The most fascinating thing about watching skaters at rehearsal is seeing them glide around without any apparent effort, forwards, backwards, swooping around corners. I know how they're actually doing it -- it's a lot of weight shifts, mostly using the hips and thigh muscles -- but it looks satisfyingly graceful. Given time and practice, this is well within my physical capacity. Whether I ever get there depends on whether it's enjoyable to learn or not.

Everybody wish me luck. If I break my leg, I'll let you know where you can send the get-well cards.