First 30 Days Blog

28 may

Zen and the Art of Inline Skating

JennaSmithOn my 25th birthday I woke up to the realization that I was five years away from 30, and that I was a mess.

Growing up in Ohio, I had dreamed about California’s beaches, laid-back lifestyle and year-round sun. As soon as I graduated from college, I made like the Beverly Hillbillies, packed up my car, and headed for “Cali-for-nie-ay.” Once I hit San Diego’s shores I never looked back.

But San Diego wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. First, I didn’t really know anyone. Sure, I’m adventurous, but I’m also introverted by nature. As a result, I took a lot of moonlit walks along the beach, alone. After a while, I kind of lost the taste for it, which was OK because I had to work anyway.

One of the good things I could say about work was that it solved my social issues. I had plenty of friends at the cubicle farm, and that’s even where I met my guy.

I was in my dream city, I had a good job, I had my guy, and things were great, right?

Well, three years later I was sitting in the same desk, at the same job, in a windowless cubicle, staring at a beach screen-saver instead of enjoying the actual beach outside my door… OK, the beach across town.

When I wasn’t hanging out with some friends from the office, I was spending my evenings camped out on the couch, too tired and depressed from the job and the rush-hour commute to do much more than watch whatever was on TV and listen to the blood coagulating in my veins.

So back to my 25th birthday.

I woke up that morning with 30 looming like an object in my rearview mirror. At that moment I decided that something needed to change.

I would quit my job, buy myself a VW Bus, go to Burning Man, get a sick tattoo, meet a man named Snake, then we would come back to San Diego and spend our days rollerblading along Pacific Beach like “Slomo.”

I’d be free, gosh darn it, to do what I want, any old time.

After I had my first cup of coffee I kind of came to my senses and realized that Burning Man had already passed, and that it probably wasn’t a good idea to just up and quit my job.

But that didn’t mean I couldn’t do some of the other things on my list, namely the rollerblading.

See, I knew that I needed to get out, get moving, and get healthier. Day after day after night of sitting, sitting, sitting, had worn me out so much that I was starting to take the shape of my couch and desk chair.

Initially I had considered running, but gravity and I came to an agreement long ago – I wouldn’t try to defy it, and it wouldn’t blow out my knees and, so far, the agreement was going strong. Then I thought about joining a gym and realized the last thing I wanted to do was exercise indoors.

Then I thought about how much I had enjoyed roller skating as a kid, and how hanging out with Slomo at going as fast as you can go on these thin wheels, and I headed out to get my first set of inline skates.

Happy Birthday to me!

Two years later, I’m still skating.

I did make it to Burning Man once, but didn’t meet a guy named Snake. I did meet a Josh, however, while I was skating. I was minding my own business when this horse of a dog ran by me, trailing his leash. I roll over it, trip, and wipe out on the pavement. The rest is pretty much the stuff of romantic comedies.

About six months after my birthday I finally got the courage to quit my job. I had decided that I’d had enough of the nine-to-five world so I became a freelance writer. I set my own schedule, and I always make sure to include plenty of time outdoors. I’ve even started working on this novel that had been rattling around in my head since forever.

At first it was tough making all those changes, but whenever things got stressful I would just strap on the blades, head to the beach, and roll until my heart was calm and my heard was clear. I never actually skated with Slomo, but I pass him a couple times, and wave hello.

As far as the tattoo is concerned, well, a girl’s got to have a few secrets, right?

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Posted by Jenna Smith on May 28th, 2014 in New Directions, Personal Stories, Spirituality | 0 comments

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