On Friday night, I valeted the Bookmobile in West Hollywood (for obvious reasons if you've ever tried to park in West Hollywood on a Friday night). When I retrieved my car, I became flummoxed because I could not get the gearshift out of park. I kept trying to force the stick until I eventually sprained my thumb -- an old derby injury, aggravated. Finally, I had to call over the valet attendant, saying, "I don't know what you guys did to my car, but I can't get it out of park." The attendant reached inside and turned the key, igniting the engine. This fixed the problem. I drove to Echo Park, thumb and ego aching.
I played derby for the first time in seven months last night, landing on that bad thumb once again. I skated with my former teammate Crystal Deth in Wreck League -- the recreational leg of LADD. I was a little nervous going in -- seven months off-skates is an eon in Derby Time. But I surprised myself by seemingly picking up where I'd left off: still pretty fast, able to take a hit (many, actually), recover from a fall quickly. My agility and lateral movement didn't seem compromised.
It was bittersweet. I had a blast skating, and it was reassuring to discover that I could still hold my own after a considerable break, but I left practice with a welt on my thigh and an angry thumb. A couple of times during the night, I felt my left arm tingle following a fall. This is really the worst thing that seven years of derby has done to my body: a compressed nerve that runs from my neck down the length of my arm. I still wake up in the middle of the night, my arm completely numb, hand clenched. It's been better since I've stopped playing, but it's still with me.
Practice used to be my favorite part of derby. I was always a more consistent skater in practice than in games because nerves too often got the better of me. During my last season, I felt like I'd plateaued, and practice became a chore. When the only thing I looked forward to was skating in a bout, I knew I was done. So, it was nice to have that old feeling back last night -- of playing a game, for fun, with friends. I just wish it didn't come at such a cost to my body. I'm still thinking about going back next week though.
I have a strong, flexible back. I realize now what a critical role this must've played in my longevity as a derby skater, and in particular, my ability to always bounce right back after the worst of hits. Backbends are one of my strengths in yoga, and I surprised myself by dropping into full camel pose during a class on Saturday. I think now of my mother's back, her spine grossly curved and rounded from scoliosis that went untreated during childhood. Now in her twilight years, her internal organs have shifted.
In other news, during a hike in Chantry Flats on Sunday, I discovered an orchid in full bloom. We found it on our way back down the mountain. We'd missed it on our way up, or perhaps it wasn't there before. At the top of the mountain, we removed the cover to a water tank, which may or may not have been the gates of hell.