photo: Roy Crawford / edited by Vandana Shove’Her ;)
Tis the season of love. And when I say season, I mean day. Valentines Day. A day to recognize and appreciate the value of ones partner along the journey of life (or the day or week, whatever you’re up to as Feb. 14th rolls around). What better time than to address the important value of derby spouses.
First let me get a personal annoyance of mine out of the way. The common term “derby widow” is applied to the ‘real-life’partner of the person involved in derby. Stereotypically and a significant majority of the time this is referring to a female skater and her significant other who does not play derby. When the significant other is a husband/boyfriend (ie. the male variety), should it not be “derby widower”? I don’t know whether it’s because the derby community is a bit androgynous in its overall look on life and feels no need to stick to clearly defined gender roles and ‘widow’ is easier to say than ‘widower’ or if it’s sometime deeper than that? Either way, my husband, without whom I could ever have joined or continue on this amazing derby path, deserves to know that I consider him far more than just my derby widower. He is, in fact, the knee pads that cushion me when I fall and the toe stops that allow me quick take off when I need it. He is the booty shorts that support me and make me feel as good as he sees me. For my derby widower, I am forever completely and utterly content.
The term’ derby wife’ however, holds little ambiguity in its meaning for those within the community although it holds many variations for those who enjoy its benefits. Simply put, a good derby wife should first and foremost be the support that continues to stoke the fire in your derby belly. When it begins to dwindle under whatever pressures may be weighing on you (injury, work, league stuff, etc.) they are the ones who encourage you to take care of yourself, but also remind you of the reasons you fell in love with derby to begin with. If your wife can do that in a way that is effective for you individually, then everything else is a bonus. Thankfully I am blessed with many derby wife bonuses.
My derby wife:
- is the mirror in the changeroom where I put on my fake lashes and give myself a pep talk. She is in the reflection looking back that tells me I CAN do it and WILL do it.
- is that rare satisfying penalty I get when I know I’ve taken one for the benefit of the team. She gives me time to reflect, improve and regroup.
- is the bridge, on the track and in my life. When I’ve strayed ahead, she is the link that tells me when I’ve gone too far and pulls me back, but is also the one who makes it possible for me succeed, outside of the comfort zone.
- is the first breath of fresh air out of an especially smelly practice, the reminder of the outside world and how much sweeter it is because there is derby to return to.
- is the pivot panty I look to for direction and to guide me when I’m not clear.
- is the rip in my tights after a tussle with the concrete, the bruise from a rogue wheel; a reminder that I am not invincible but also tougher than I thought.
- is that never-ending transition drill that makes me terrified and crazy, but oh so much better.
- is the after party celebration, win or lose.
- is the burning feeling from a minute-long squat or plank, the physical indicator that with her I will go farther than without.
Because the sport of derby, in these early heady days, knows that like in life, everyone needs someone to get them through the rough patches (like too many derby metaphors) and to celebrate the triumphs (like achieving the perfect victory colour combo of socks/tights/jersey/eye make-up).
Happy (Derby) Love Day!