Something I love about winter is the fun dates. For those going on their very first one, or the long-time couples who have to make a point to go out and do something new, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the winter season. Instead of being discouraged by the negative-degree temperatures and slick sidewalks that could easily be the death of anyone, we Chicago inhabitants try to embrace the snow, ice, and sharp cold. So what is the best way to surround yourself with all these aspects of winter- the snow, the ice, the slick surfaces that will most likely cause you to slip and fall? Ice skating!
My boyfriend and I made it a goal to go ice skating at Millennium Park as soon as we got back from Winter Break. However, the quarter started in full speed, and it just felt like too much effort to put on an extra pair of tights under my jeans, find my thick gloves and skates in the back of my closet, and take that oh-so-long twenty-minute train ride to The Bean so we could skate right in front of it. So finally, here we were this past Sunday. We had both finished all our work for the weekend, and the temperature was almost 40 degrees. It was time. I discovered my skates were not actually as far back in my closet as I had thought, and I found mittens that would get the job done. Before we left for the park, my roommates reminded me about the new ice skating rink set up directly behind Millennium Park. It is called the Maggie Daley Plaza Silver Ribbon, and it is the same cost as The Bean rink. I had been to the other rink before, and skating around a winding course seemed to be different and interesting to both of us, so off to the Silver Ribbon we went!
We arrived just in time to get in line for my boyfriend’s skates and watch the Zamboni sweep the ice for its last twenty minutes. We stood, watching The Ribbon become transformed into a shimmering, sleek river of ice. We took plenty of selfies together to pass the time. Once my boyfriend rented his $12 skates, we picked out a locker, got a legitimate picture of us in our skates (and no, we did NOT use a selfie pole!) and set out to the ice. So you know how I said earlier that the zamboni had transformed the ice rink into this flowing, idyllic river? I took those thoughts back as I stepped onto the raging river of doom for the first time. I had not skated in over a year, and I forgot how terrified I feel wearing sharp footwear on intentionally slippery paths, while being surrounded by other people with equally sharp footwear and crazed looks in their eyes as they speed past you. I clung to the wall the first lap around and didn’t even last the second lap- I ended up taking a break halfway through, sitting off to the side of the rink in conveniently-located picnic benches that were most likely placed there for the tired, trembling, terrified, and totally scarred. I watched plenty of children and adults fall. The toddlers bawling their eyes out made me realize that that would be my future if I were to fall on that ice.
I let my boyfriend do a lap by himself (of course, he was thoroughly enjoying himself!), and he persuaded me to give it a try, stop clinging his hand (or the wall...or both!) and skate faster. I actually ended up enjoying myself, and I skated for another thirty minutes! And did I fall? No. Did he? Oh, yes. Victory! All in all, I had a fantastic time. He and I both agreed that we loved the rink layout; it was a great design because it keeps the traffic flow of crazed skaters going, it isn’t extremely boring, and it gives you different views of the city as you softly glide through each turn.
We returned to our locker, which held stable, non-life-threatening shoes, and made our way back to the El. The walk was not far and was enjoyable, especially the first time around. And then we got to the platform, went past the turnstiles, and were waiting for the train when my boyfriend realized that he had forgotten to exchange the locker card he had been given back for his ID! So he ran back to the rink as I slowly followed, and we reunited at the rink entrance. We finally set out for Lincoln Park, where we had pizza and a movie calling our names.