One Moment in Time
It was the middle of July and I had the ice skating rink to myself.
Listen to the rest of the Summer Games EP here.
My family had come up to Gatlinburg to spend a day in mountains, or more likely, to hit the outlet malls. My favorite place was Ober Gatlinburg, a mountaintop resort that was a curious mix of German ski chalet meets redneck shopping mall. We boarded the tram from downtown and ascended up the mountain to the mall area and the skating rink. My parents went one direction, my brother went another, and I headed for the rink. I was ten years old.
The whole resort was more or less deserted this time of year, especially the skating rink. I rented a pair of skates from the drowsy teenage attendant and took the ice- or rather, took the wall. I loved the idea of ice skating, but I was terrible at it. While watching figure skating on TV, I would go into the living room and perform my own routines during the commercials, jumping into the air; imagining perfect landings from toe loops, axels, and spins. But whenever I went ice skating I could barely keep my skates under me.
I slowly made my way around the rink, holding the wall and doing my best not to fall. After several minutes I would take my hand off the wall and test my balance, but inevitably I would go too fast, lose control, and head back to the safety of the wall.
I had probably been hugging the wall for over a half hour when I heard the opening piano riff for Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time” come on the rink stereo. And then something changed.
Had the sleepy teenage attendant put this song on especially for me? I suddenly felt like I did when I performed my routines in the living room- full of artistry and courage. I threw my hair back, straightened my spine, and moved away from the wall. I was all wobbles at first, but by the time Whitney sang, “Give me one moment in time, when I’m racing with destiny!” I was gliding on the ice gracefully, moving my arms with my stride and singing along. When the climax of the last chorus soared (key modulation!), “I will be free!,” I was spinning in the center of rink, bringing myself to a stop in sync with the end of the song, my arms in the air triumphantly.
Actually, I was only about two feet away from the wall the entire time. My parents saw the whole thing and took pictures. What the pictures reveal is an awkward, overweight ten year-old just a few feet away from the wall with her arms out to the sides, her mouth open wide belting along with the song. But what I felt inside was triumph, and what I remember every time I hear that song was that feeling of finally letting go of the wall and sending myself into the great wide open.
And so I, Angela James, give you “One Moment in Time.” I finally let go of the wall musically exactly one year ago when I started my solo project, and you can hear me perfect my triple Salchow at Comfort Station in Chicago (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) on Thursday, August 9th at 7:00 p.m., or on the WBEZ program 848 at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, August 10th.
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