This week, we bring you a blog post by our recently rostered Manila Ice on his experiences in his first bout as a Gent.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inhale 4, 3, 2, 1. Hold for 2. Exhale 3, 2, 1. Hold for 2.
Inhale again 4, 3, 2, 1. Hold for 2. Exhale…
If we haven’t FORMALLY met, as of 8/20/2016, I am Manila Ice - roller derby player with the Atlanta ResurGents.
As long as I can recall, I have been reconciling my independent thinking with collectivism. Erroneous or not, I attribute it to Filipino values colliding with American ones. These values will never completely coalesce, yet I do count it as a symbolically epic win that my #818 now gloriously contrasts AND complements the sea of purple and gold skaters with which it resides.
Pretty esoteric shit, right?!
Now to a succinct statement: when Pity Party asked me to blog on Saturday’s experience, all I remember is that I needed to establish a breathing pattern.
Inhale for 4. Hold for 2. Exhale for 3. Hold for 2.
Everything else seems strung out between Zen-like flow and fight-or-flight.
Prior to the bout, I couldn’t sleep. The day of, I broke into cold sweats driving to the venue. I was terrified to skate warm-ups that day and could feel the weakness in my legs. I thought I might have a crippling panic attack. I couldn’t wait for this to be over.
Yet a small moment of randomness brought me a little clarity and, in turn, some repose.
Immediately before the first whistle, our captain Jazzy received a well-deserved acknowledgement for starting the ‘Gents four years ago. The first jam I skated on, I had the three slot and he had the safety. The founder of AMRD literally “had my back”. I trust Jazzy completely and with it, his belief in me. All I had to do was breathe and NOT be something that I know I am not.
Things get REALLY vague after that. Am I the only person that has trouble recalling their first bout?
I remember the first person that hit me was Flip from the Brigade of Handsome Gentlemen. Couldn’t have come from a nicer human. We discussed dissertations afterwards.
I remember the feeling of hearing another founding member ManChild telling our wall to brace for a huge hitter as a BHG jammer was coming around turn three.
I remember my coach Gooch smiling.
Most importantly I remember the sheer ecstasy of seeing my fellow dirt bird and good friend, Mosh Bit, score on his first jam. As he established lead jam with seconds left on the clock, I felt the pent up emotions of fear and frustration leaving. Seeing his jam gave me the feeling of freedom and self-transcendence.
To get to the privilege of merely skating in a ‘Gents bout, I had to do a few things. To name a few - tame some gremlins; unleash a few tigers; practice some epic resiliency; be more grateful; be MOST respectful - to myself, my teammates, my opponents. To get to get to the next level, I’ll need to do more of this…and a few other responsibilities, namely, I have to own that I am no longer a dirt bird.
Once you go ‘Gent you never go back.
And because of this whole derby thing, I feel it bleeding into everyday life.
Maybe this Manila Ice character is less of a forged persona and more a heroic character that I needed help me distinguish the difference between platonic shadows and the genuine?
Because, in my opinion, shedding myself of former and allowing the latter leads to this whole self-transcendence stuff which leads to ultimate freedom.
I’m not sure how long I’ll continue. The hits are REALLY unforgiving. But I do know that while I was happy my first bout was over, I can’t say that I was relieved about it either.
So I guess I’ll just have to ride that wave in a sea of purple and gold…and never forget to breathe.
Exhale 4, 3, 2, 1.
Endurance practice tonight.
Dedicated to the Atlanta Roller Girls, Peach State Roller Derby, Atlanta Men’s Roller Derby and my ever-extending family members.