A friend of mine has discovered roller derby. I should clarify because when I say “friend”, I mean “Facebook friend”. Which, as most of you know, means that this girl and I were acquaintances in another life (high school) and I would barely recognize her if we stood next to each other in line at the grocery store. So, I basically don’t know this girl from Adam.
But social media has offered me the odd experience of watching this stranger grow and blossom and find herself. She is a prolific status updater and they are sometimes hilarious, sometimes biting and sometimes gut wrenching. We have incredibly different lives but I have grown to like and admire her through this vast distance of time, geography and ether. She is tough. She is smart. She wears her heart on her sleeve and her life hasn’t been an easy one from the sound of it. Over the past year, she has found herself, regained her footing, her confidence and her happiness through roller derby. What a joy it has been to watch.
What luck it would be if we could all find our own personal roller derby. That place where we click. Where our pieces suddenly fit together and we are happy, successful and supported. For a long time after college I struggled to find it. It was not easy for me. I went to Public Radio fund drive after fund drive to work the phones in hopes of meeting a new best friend. (Most people read that sentence and are not shocked that a 23 year-old volunteering at an NPR fund drive doesn’t have many friends but it was obviously lost on me.) I read a lot of books in a lot of cafes and hoped that it would bring new people into my life. But it never really worked that way for me. Eventually, I was lucky enough to make friends and meet my husband but it was much harder than I would have liked. I had to scrape them together from various bits and pieces of my life.
The first time in my life that I felt everything really click was motherhood. That was it for me. I remember one of my husband’s co-workers saying to me that he had seen me pushing my son in his stroller one day in the middle of an Iowa winter. He said that, despite the cold, I had a smile from ear to ear. It was true! I felt that I had finally found my place. I think that’s how life works. When you’re happy and things are as they should be for you, you can’t help but wear it on your sleeve. Or, in today’s world, wear it as your status.
For those of you who are close to vomiting, hold up. Real life does settle in. I am now a mother of two and have been doing this for a while. Some days are still triumphant and full of joy. Some days, I barely scrabble by. Frankly, some days, I let my kids sit slack jawed in front of the TV for longer than I will admit right now so that I can regain my composure and surf the net for a while. But I still feel that this is right for me.
Everyone has their own struggle to find that spot. In the past, our paths were made for us. Feminism and the changes over the last fifty or so years have given us the gift of a myriad of choices in our lives. I am grateful for that gift and the irony that I found my spot being a stay-at-home mother is not lost on me. But I was able to search, have a career and make my own choices. I am writing now and hoping to create a new career for myself. I was incredibly lucky and I feel that I found where I belong. I wish for all of you that you would be lucky enough to find your own personal roller derby.