I have shitty skates. This is important to know because it affects the whole rollerblading experience. When I tie up my laces I have to jam the boot into the correct position after putting my foot in so it doesn't bunch up on the ride, and check the duct tape that holds my Velcro stabilizer in place to make sure it's still flat and sticky before I can roll out the door. I've had these skates for years. We've been through many seasons together.

The park that I frequent is one of those that's ever under the thumb of some landscaping project, so the scenery that rushes past is always different depending on what month it is. There are a few staples though. The more-or-less permanent landmarks are: the line of trees along the left side of the path by the entrance; the actual path (god help me if they ever get rid of that for some reason), which is made of potholed black pavement; the spots of pseudo-wetland that confused little bridges are always spreading their legs over; and the tiny mountain—oh, I'm sorry, hill—where joggers jog in their highlighter neon clothing. Plus of course the rink, which is at the base of the jogger hill, encased in a chain-link fence, and made of blue rubberized asphalt.

Because of the landscaping nonsense, it always smells like freshly churned dirt, freshly cut grass, or some other fresh abomination of olfactory influence. I prefer the stink of my sweat and the sweet, rubbery smell of the rink that envelops you once you're inside.

Like I said before, my skates are shitty, so when I get going I really feel it. Yeah, I get the typical sensations. The wind on my skin, the taste of my breath as I exhale or the humidity of the air when I inhale, the magnetism of the ground under my wheels. There's a cling when you're in a rubberized rink, a quality different from the gritty mess of rolling over concrete or normal pavement. But I never rotate my wheels (because I'm stellar when it comes to maintenance), so I feel every dink of every tiny pebble or twig on the ride. And I got these skates second hand, so they were never fitted perfectly. The pinch of the boot tops tight and slightly askew across my ankles and the rod that houses the wheels digging a line into my soles are both so familiar to me now that it would be weird if either sensation weren't there.

But the best feeling, the reason I skate, is the magic that happens when you jump. Hang time is angelic. It puts things in perspective. When I'm midair, nothing but the moment matters.