Friday, March 16, 2012

Role Reversal

Two years ago, a friend remarked after my first broadcast call that it was if Dread was now my derby widow. I took offense, though none was meant. I've been fortunate to have experiences in the world of roller derby that go beyond the limits of what someone's spouse can and should expect they day his or her partner straps on the skates and is picked to be on a league. I've the gift of a smart mouth and I can pay attention to multiple situations. After being a mascot, security head, bout producer, and volunteer coordinator, I cast it all aside for the job I wanted, announcing. But even that wasn't as important as the title I've had for over five years, Dread's derby widow. Except now, I'm not.

Dread isn't skating this year.

If you've clicked on that link, you've read the heartache-inducing, yet poetic summary of the last season, where my wife's head had been and is, and what she decided to do about it. I've known about this decision for a while. I didn't bother posting anything about it, because it was her right to get the word out.

When Dread decided to try out for the sport, it wasn't like the current regimes in the competitive markets. One didn't go through a round of cuts or need references from other leagues, your mom, or DNA tests. She inquired about joining, was told about the Fresh Meat clinics, and went for it. She broke her tailbone early on. Unlike a lot of other skaters in her year, this didn't' come naturally, but she stuck with it. She persevered through a season of not being teamed. Her organizational skills and positive spirit won her a spot on the Executive Board. Dread was, and is, a force for good.

When she was teamed, she got on the Nutcrackers. It was the one team, out of all of them that she wanted to be on. And it was the best fit I've seen for her since, well, me. That year, she was a terror on the track. The Wall of Ass, her and Xena Paradox, was an unstoppable force. Her speed and power seemed to come out of nowhere. It was as though all she had needed to excel and become a good player was just to be on the team and be given a chance to be on the track. She is modest. She won't tell you that she's anything special. That year, and in the two after, she was all that and more. And I would hear that from other people.

Simply put: Dread became an athlete even though she hated most of that jock bullshit and she was able to pull out the stops when it was necessary. She didn't lose her love for her teammates. She held herself to a high standard. And she didn't waver from her stances.

What derby gave to Dread over the years was more than injuries and suffering. In this matriarchal, often dysfunctional society, she was a voice of reason. My home league, NHRD, loved Dread. She would share everything she learned at her practices with the founders of Skate Free or Die in a parking lot in Nashua. She cared about people. When time, drama, and stress became too heavy, I worried for her.

In 2011, I worried a lot. There was a lot I was unhappy about, some of it was how she was treated, some of it was how she treated herself. If you're a derby widow, you know that you're going to hear a lot more about what happens on a league or team than an average person. You are confidant, husband, and friend. I knew how she felt, knew when to keep my mouth shut when it came to giving advice, and did my own thing. That's the thing about Dread, she loves the fact I am not attached to her like a remora. When I started announcing, it was for another league. But I still felt obligated to do other jobs in hers, as it was helping the most important person in the world to me, my wife.

Reading her post, I get choked up. This season, she is not skating. She is not actively involved. I still am, though in a wholly different capacity. We're going to see where this goes.

1 comment:

  1. wow.....this must be so heavy and difficult for you both. i don't know anything about what goes on, of course---but your post is wrenching. knowing through you and a tiny bit through her what a big part of her life this has been, her decision, even if temporary, could only come out of major stuff. and knowing how you love her, and also the world she inspired you to get into. i'm glad you have each other to help with the emotional repercussions. i will be thinking of you both --i gathered you thought white light was silly last time i said i'd send it, but it's all i have to give, and at least it helps me when things are painful for my friends, so you got bunch more of it......

    the photo makes me want to cry......please tell 'dread' i'm thinking of her....