Even if you’re doing what you always wanted to do—or were raised to do, as I’m doing, as the son of two writers—you do have to remember the pure joy of it. Long-retired Chicago Blackhawk hockey player Eric Nesterenko told Studs Terkel while he was still playing, “I still like to skate.”
One day last year on a cold, clear, crisp afternoon, I saw this huge sheet of ice in the street. Goddamn if I didn’t drive out there and put on my skates. I took off my camel-hair coat. I was just in a suit jacket, on my skates. And I flew. Nobody was there. I was free as a bird. I was really happy. That goes back to when I was a kid. I’ll do that until I die, I hope. Oh, I was free!
The wind was blowing from the north. with the wind behind you, you’re in motion, you can wheel and dive and turn, you can lay yourself into impossible angles that you never could walking or running. You lay yourself at a forty-five degree angle, your elbows virtually touching the ice as you’re in a turn. Incredible! It’s beautiful! You’re breaking the bounds of gravity. I have a feeling this is the innate desire of man.
(His eyes are glowing.) I haven’t kept many photographs of myself, but I found one where I’m in full flight. I’m leaning into a turn. You pick up the centrifugal forces and you lay in it. For a few seconds, like a gyroscope, they support you. I’m in full flight and my head is turned. I’m concentrating on something and I’m grinning. That’s the way I like to picture myself. I’m something else there. I’m on another level of existence, just being in pure motion. Going wherever I want to go, whenever I want to go. That’s nice, you know. (Laughs softly.)