June 20, 2013

And the Mome Raths Outgrabe

Photo by Alvin Green Jr.
After a day of derby
when the salt has dried to your skin, the
stagnate stench of your derby gear
lingering on your wrists and, marinating your body.
You ache in well worked places, with a satisfied
‘this is how I do’.
Hair: long or short takes a more natural state—
product having long ago melted and peeled away from your person.
Memories of burning toe stops, the sensation of a woman’s ilium in your thigh,
of people made up of muscle, bone, flesh and plastic.
What is derby but assaulting the Senses?

Anytime I brush a strand of hair out of my eyes my wrist-guard stink inadvertently wafts across my face.  It gets me every time.  To anyone else it is surely repulsive.  But to me, derby and my own derby odor gives me a satisfaction of, well, me; someone I’ve grown to love unconditionally over this past year-and-a-half with FoCo Girls Gone Derby (FCGGD).  I know what my body used to feel like, used to look like, what I even used to smell like, and all of those definitions of “me” have transformed.

The change from a demure gal into a fearless, smelly Girl Gone Derby didn’t happen overnight and I didn’t do it alone. As some of you may or may not know, I am leaving Colorado for a master’s program in Michigan (I checked, they have roller derby there - hello Lansing Derby Vixens!) and I want to use this opportunity to thank FCGGD, and bring forward all of those skaters who have made my life and derby career start off so wonderful. 

I couldn’t ask for a better derby family.  Beginning on Tuesdays with Double D-Struction, iOna Switchblade and The Original Skankster, these ladies helped define my skating style.  They pushed me to be “less like a tree and more like a bush,” and being 5’11” off skates, this no small feat. So thanks Double D and the Tuesday ladies for teaching me the basics of how-to’s and accepting all that would become me.  Without the selflessness of these derby women who bore and raised the derby larvae that was my class and the classes to follow, our league couldn’t have grown the way it has.  We’re a badass butterfly now, and it is magnificent.

Rules and strategy came with practice, but only with the careful guidance of the Officiating crew does derby success become an obtainable goal.  Krunchy, JewJew Bee, and Bladeybug let me stand inside the track and watch the penalties accrue—thanks!  I may have been helping a non-skating official (NSO) for my league and lending an unpadded hand when short staffed at a scrimmage or bout, but I was also channeling my inner Porifera and letting it all soak up.  After a few weeks NSOing things suddenly started falling into place—the rules made sense on the track and I felt less like a baby giraffe skating through pudding and more like an actual derby girl.  Thank you to those first trainers and officials who volunteered their time to help me and the other newbies understand why derby is the way it is.

I want to thank each person that I’ve ever met during derby.  Even if it was only for a single night, every woman and man that I have met through FCGGD has had an influence on my person.  Pages could be written, naming everyone accompanied by a story how they’ve touched my life: Dead Zeppelin, Pootie Tang, Inner Demon, Sequin Destroy, KermudJen, Dyers Eve…but that is too private for all of the blog-o-sphere to see.  Instead, I will give one final “Why derby is the best thing that has happened to me” before I sign off.

I have recently gotten Derby Married - to two of my best friends.  Thrifty Femme-i-Nifty and I were in the same starting class, and we immediately got along.  We had many of the same struggles with skating initially, but over the months we were able to help one another transfigure into more confident skaters.  Enter: Mollytov Maguire.  Molly was several starting classes ahead of Femme and I, and she was a wealth of derby knowledge and camaraderie.  I’ve never met two more supportive women in my life. A few Saturdays ago after our bout we brought out the rings and made it official—the crowd applauded, tears were shed.  After sharing physical and emotional bruises both on and off the track, the three of us are now forever bonded by derby-wifedom.

Even if I don’t land a hit at practice; even if I get repeatedly blocked and can’t juke through a single jam; even if my endurance runs thin: this is me and I will strive forward.  This has become my favorite type of me.  I love every foul smelling part of who I am; because of roller derby.  Because of FoCo Girls Gone Derby.

Mome Rath

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