The Bucket List
By Lauren Vespoli, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, February 8, 2013
It was one of the coldest days of the term, bright and clear despite sub-zero temperatures. Skating on Occom Pond seemed the quaint sort of winter activity that would make a beautiful but cold day enjoyable. I had skated as a child on a pond in my town, one of those charming New England situations where there’s a fire pit to warm your hands and your friends’ mothers serve you hot chocolate. I remember very clearly the last time I skated because the experience was so shameful. I was around thirteen and at the birthday party of my friend’s little sister. All the seven-year-olds sped around the ice rink, jeering at my friend and me, since we refused to move very far away from the wall.
However, I packed my skates this term and was ready to get back on the ice. That cold Thursday seemed perfect for me to make my collegiate ice debut, as barely anyone else was on the pond. The bitter weather had conveniently given me an excuse to obscure my face, but the lack of other skaters was even more ideal. Few would witness my certain failure.
After struggling to squeeze my feet into the same skates I had worn at 13, I tottered onto the glimmering pond. Clutching a hockey stick in an attempt to maintain my balance, I slid my feet back and forth in stiff, jerky motions. I steered as clear as I could from the pickup hockey games that began to form as the afternoon wore on, skating up and down the side of the pond and making small, safe circles. Occom seemed much bigger now than all those times I had run around it.
I believe I improved in my hour and a half on the pond, though as I was bragging to my friends, my blade got caught in a crack and I hit the ice. Skating that day gave me a blister on the inside of my right foot and soreness in shin muscles I didn’t know existed. It reminded me that it’s important to occasionally do things you’re terrible at.
I know we’re all very busy pretending we don’t care what other people think about us, while, for the most part, adhering to the activities and spaces where we are “good” at something. It all feels very safe and predictable, but guess what: it’s boring. Imagine all of the beautiful insights we could have, the amount our egos could shrink, the appreciation for our peers’ talents that we could develop if we started doing things we’re bad at.
What better time to do this than Winter Carnival, the awkward runt of the big weekend family? We’re all so bundled up we don’t know who’s who, and it’s not like many alumni are going to be around. My top suggestion for all you awkward dancers out there (I feel your pain) is the Carnival Masquerade Ball and Dance Group Competition in Sarner Underground on Saturday at 8 p.m.
For Pete’s sake, the theme is “Very Grimm,” so let’s go with it.