Nov 192011

Dear Roller Derby,

I think we need to talk. We’ve both seen this coming for a while, and it’s time we laid it out on the track. Our relationship isn’t working anymore for either of us. It’s just not the same as it used to be.

When we first met, I was fascinated by you. Some might say obsessed. I spent hours on the internet trying to find out more about you, and still more hours at dark bars expounding on your singular qualities. I wished that I could go to practice every day so that I could spend every minute with you. I wrote my master’s thesis about you. I didn’t even care if you liked me back, I just wanted to be close to you.

And it wasn’t just you, either. You had all these great friends, too. Cool chicks with PhDs or mohawks or both. I made friends with all of them and we swore to love each other like family. You held us all in your orbit like some extraordinary feminist universe. It was exhilarating. No one has ever made me feel so loved or important. And for serious, our physical relationship was un-fucking-paralleled. You knew just how I liked it; rough and a little bit dirty.

Meeting you gave me the confidence to make a lot of much needed changes in my life. And those women gave me a support system like none I have ever experienced. Like sisters. But the truth is that they really just liked me because we all liked you and I’m not very good at sisterhood, anyways. I’m an only child and I’ve always been friends with men, so the delicate rules of feminine friendship elude me. Lately it feels like those women and I don’t have much in common besides you, and we argue over you all the time.

But this isn’t about your friends. And it’s really not about you, either. I don’t want you to think that, because you are amazing and you have changed my life in so many ways.

It’s not you.

It’s me.

The simple explanation is that I got too attached. I wanted so desperately to be a part of your world that I completely neglected other parts of my life. I left my husband and started spending all my time with you. I spent all my money on you, too. I traveled to be with you wherever you were and I bought sexy outfits that I thought you would like. I’m not blaming you, but do you know how much my new skates cost? I’m going to be paying them off for a year.

It was all so good for a while, but lately I’ve been starting to miss the woman I was before I met you. I bet you didn’t know this, but I used to read the newspaper. The New York Times. Not like every day or anything, but at least a couple times a week. I used to write poems and make things, too. I used to knit scarves for people and make dinner and throw parties and go to parties where people talked about art and stuff. And I’m not saying that it’s your fault that I gave those things up, because I know you never asked for anything from me. I gave up those things willingingly.

The truth is that it isn’t you that’s changed. It’s me. I don’t really like the way I act around you, anymore. When we first started hanging out, you made me feel like a total badass, but now I just feel mostly pathetic around you. I fight with people over you. I act like an asshole when I feel like other people aren’t treating you the way they should be. I know it’s normal to be protective of things you care about, but it’s really gotten out of hand. It used to be really easy for me to get along with people, but now it seems like a lot of work.

Worst of all, I’m jealous. I didn’t use to be the kind of woman that got jealous of other women, but I am now. I am covetous of the time they spend with you and their ease with you. It seems so unfair that everyone else gets to have such a great relationship with you when I am trying so hard to make it work. Maybe I’ve just been trying too hard. I know I have.

I feel like I don’t have anything of my own anymore. Every picture on Facebook is of us together. Hell, every shirt in my closet has your name on it. It’s a little bit creepy and too much. I mean, I started a website about you. Clearly, I’m not cut out for this level of intimacy. It’s like I can’t love you and not give up me. I know that must be hard for you to understand because you are so self-possessed, but I’m just not there right now. When we’re together I’m nervous and angsty, and when we’re not all I talk about is you. It’s not healthy.

I’m not saying that we can’t see each other anymore at all. No, roller derby, you are too important to me for me to give up our relationship completely. I’m saying that I need some space. I’m not going to get all dramatic and stop coming to practice or start avoiding you or anything, but I can’t spend all my time thinking about you anymore. I just can’t. It’s not healthy for me, and frankly, I don’t think it’s doing much for you, either. It will be better for both of us if we keep things a little more casual.

Please believe me when I tell you that I will always love you, but I need to spend more time nurturing my other relationships and doing other things. Things that I am good at. We will still be together every Tuesday and Thursday. That is not going to change. But I am going to stop obsessively texting you the rest of the week and trying to make up reasons to see you. I want to take it slow and see how things go. I hope you understand.




 Posted by at 12:00 pm  1 Response »
Jul 022010

This is Tricky. Sometimes it's hard to remember when to take the knucks off.

If you’re a skater, or you live with or date one, you know how much we talk about roller derby, especially in the first six or so months of skating. Of course, derby remains an immersive activity throughout one’s career, but it’s during those first months that you have the most trouble talking about other things. With each practice, your knowledge of the game and your blocking and jamming skills increase exponentially, which of course serves as great positive reinforcement for the increasing time commitment you’re making. In the beginning, you are also getting to know your teammates, both as skaters and as people, and your derby family starts to become more and more central to your life. There comes a time when, despite your best attempts to limit talk of ass-punching, crotch-stomping, and the predicted quality of the floor at RollerCon when in non-derby social situations, you may find your relationships strained by your new obsession. Ever tire of hearing about your friend’s new boyfriend or girlfriend, when they are in that phase of new love where absolutely every imaginable topic of conversation leads to something about said person? That annoyance usually lasts about three weeks. Derby skaters babble with the same sort of intensity for MONTHS. Sometime last fall, I found that the distance between Sarah Perry and Tricky La Rouge was shrinking while the distance between each of us and my non-derby friends was expanding. Roller derby also, perhaps, effected my relationship with my previous partner – but this is a problematic, debatable effect that I’ll have to get into in a future post.

This is Sarah, a few years ago. She definitely needed some knucks.

As we all do, I found ways to hold onto the positive aspects of my pre-derby life while continuing to deepen my commitment to derby. I’ve since chilled out a little, I think, and am better about halting my derby talk when I see that someone is glazing over (which occasionally happens even when talking to other skaters. Anyone can get a little burned out).

Which brings me to a little anecdote. First of all, I’d like to officially announce here on LDG that I’m dating a new person. This is pretty awesome news, especially since he’s been reviewed by much of my team and has been approved. He’s derby-supportive and had previously been one of my most reliable ticket-purchasers (guys and gals who’d like a derby girl of their own, take note).

But I mostly share this news with you so that I can tell you this: the other day, he was clearing some seriously entrenched brush from around his uncle’s house, which involved hours of hard labor out in the Southern heat, and he found himself thinking: If I was on Tricky’s team, would this count as a make-up practice?

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d thought that I wasn’t talking about derby nearly as much as usual, but clearly, I was wrong. Skaters, don’t fool yourselves.

And yes, he calls me Tricky. Score!