I knew the directions like I knew the back of my hand. I had been to Muncie many times, but I hadn’t been to Gibson’s in 20+ years. I drove from Memorial Street, turned left at the 12th street cafe (been there for years), then down Mock until it appeared of the rows of houses. I pulled into the parking lot, and I started to remember, but not entirely! The parking lot is not something that children remember. I walked up to the front door.
In I stepped and it came flooding back. The foyer was lined with wood and trimmed in the same color wood (rustic). There was a huge glass window on the right, and trinkets set inside. The setting was if it was a trophy case full of medals. I noticed Garfield (a major icon for Muncie Indiana) with roller skates on. I crouched down to peek into the ticket booth. The lady said, “How many?” I said “four.” She said “That’ll be eight dollars.” So I paid her.
I never had to crouch before (I am 6′ 10″). I remember even glaring up at this booth from the tip of my toes, heart pounding wildly as I couldn’t bare to wait any longer for the buzzer to sound and the door would be able to open and I could bust inside. I was a little more relaxed now, although I understood how my kids felt.
As I peered through the threshold, I was amazed! I looked out into the sea of open white flooring, surround by a rustic wall, and in the middle was a silhouette. My eyes took forever to focus it was as if my mind couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. It was amazing! The lady out on the floor, she was.. She is? No way!
I shook my head, got my bearings; I even think I wiped my eyes. It was if nothing had changed. I looked away to the right, and the room full of mirrors, was exactly as it was. The were people practicing Karate, but I remember dancing like a rabbit to “You can’t touch this” by M.C. Hammer. I stood for hours in front of those mirrors doing the “Hammer Dance” on Friday nights. This dance is equivalent to running on a treadmill without having a treadmill under you. You don’t move because you slide your legs backwards as your repositioning your other legs. I probably couldn’t do it for 1 minute now without stopping to catch my breath.
Ok, now back to Arena. I moved clockwise around the building… Arcade games, check! Seating and Locker area, check! food and drink vendor, check! skate rental area, check! DJ booth, check! and last, but definitely not least; the miniature golf course, check! It was all there. Preserved like a fly in syrup.
Before I walked in, I couldn’t tell you anything about the inside. My mind had replaced it with many other memories. It was, as if; it was a dream, and I had to think about what it was, before I remembered that I could remember.
I peek back out at the rink, the lady now on her knees scraping diligently away at the floor. She had to be 65 years old. Her hair was white, and permed and sculpted perfectly on top of her head. Her orange t-shirt was layered with an orange vest, which had a white cross (reflective pattern) on her back. She had Blue jean shorts on and her legs were toned with a glare from stylish pantyhose. Not exactly what you might expect from a 65 year old lady.
She hadn’t changed a bit in 20 years! She skated into her DJ booth with a patented twist on her skates. I could remember like it was yesterday. My heart started to beat wildly.
Money, age, weight, children, wife, work, God, house, car… They all disappeared. I had nothing but memories of fun! A time in my life when I didn’t know what responsibility was. I went a lot in elementary school, and I went there every Friday in my junior high years. My mom would drop me off at 6:30 and pick me up at 8:00. I would spend equal amounts of time skating and dancing.
I remember explicitly going with my cousins (Matt & Ryan). The were good at dancing. I had dressed up with a nice shirt. My stonewashed jeans where rolled up at the ankles and clipped tight with a bobby pin. I was sporting the new Jordan’s, and I was dancing with the black guys. Which I don’t intend to be racial. It was actually an honor to move into their realm of dancing!
Skating on the other hand, was always medium at best. I was tall and lanky as a teenager. I could float around the rink and eventually mastered turning using the foot over foot pattern, but I rarely competed in the races. There was an activity where you started in the middle and raced to a corner when the DJ yelled out what corner you should go to. This gave me a little edge, because it wasn’t all racing talent.
Life at Gibson’s! How could I forget about that? It was as if it never happened in my life, until I was faced with it again. Is this normal? Should I encourage myself to think about my childhood for memory’s sake? What else is out there that makes me happy that adulthood has taken from me? I need to re-evaluate my priorities, because last night I felt unmistakably happy, and I couldn’t stop smiling!
Thank you Gibson’s skating arena. Thank you to the lady that has spent her life building children’s memories, and providing a fun place for generations of people.