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The Eight Wheels

Your trusty headphones serve you the familiar rhythms of Armin van Buuren’s brilliant trance. The sun is shining like crazy, the wind is buzzing in your ears, and the eight polyurethane wheels literally sing in contact with the asphalt. You love in-line skating, and you have been missing it for too long. You speed up; the combined noise of wind and wheels nearly drowns out the music. The volume clearly needs to be increased. You do so without slowing down. The outside world is a blur; the houses, the gardens, the parked cars, the occasional pedestrians taking a stroll. Faster, faster! You’re flying, spreading wings, stroking the wind…no, you are the wind. You are Zephyrus.

You know you must look like a nutcase, in-line skating at the end of January. The snow melted only days ago, and you still have to avoid its remains on the streets. But you don’t care. People watching you don’t matter. This is your very own hour of freedom.

A slower, more moderate track starts playing and you slow down appropriately. You are out of breath, but stopping for a while is not an option. You are now going directly against the sun. You take off your sunglasses and enjoy being blinded. Yeah, you don’t see a thing, but the road is straight, no one is near, and you feel like you’re touching the sun rays. The wheels are now but whispering, your dash has turned into a serene ride. Festina lente. High speed would mean nothing if you didn’t know slowness.

The road is now going uphill, and climbing it makes your lungs protest badly. But reaching the top brings you the alluring view of the other side of the hill. The music is speeding up, and so are you. The downhill ride feels like dancing, take-off, and landing all at once. You laugh at your own confused thoughts. You fly past a few houses and hear the dogs barking like mad. The road surface is not so smooth here. You need to be more careful. You are leaving the outskirts and returning into the city. That means more pedestrians, more cars, and low-quality surfaces. The best part is over, now you want to get home as soon as possible.

The uphill roads seem endless. After several minutes of slow and painful progress, you spot a lonely bench near a sandbox. You collapse on it, unbuckle the skates, and breathe deeply for a few minutes. You’ll get home very soon. You watch the sun hide into dark, heavy clouds. The unusually fair weather was there just for you, just for your skating hour. The winter now has to take the scepter again.

Returning home is a mechanical task. Riding the remaining quarter of a mile, opening the entrance door, taking the elevator. You drink a lot of fresh water and then finally stagger to take a shower. You are exhausted, the waves of endorphin are slowly receding, but you feel wonderful. C’est la vie.

January 24, MMIX — Personal, In-line Skating.