You know when you’re like six or seven, and everyone asks you want you want to be when you’re older and you’re supposed to say things like fireman, vet, doctor? And then people ask you a few years later, and you’re supposed to have refined your answer a little bit, become a little more realistic or a little more specific?
Well, all I ever wanted to do was be an ice skater. I used to watch the Winter Olympics and think about how beautiful they all looked, in those amazing costumes, gliding over the ice as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Out there, everything looked so perfect, so different to the flawed, ugly world I inhabited that I created some kind of ideal life around it. Of course, trying to communicate that to mum was nearly impossible. I remember when I was ten, I really, really wanted to use the ice skating rink in the city as one of those birthday party venues but mum wouldn’t hear a bar of it. If I remember correctly, I believe she told me that there was no way in hell she was going to spend that much money on something I wouldn’t even remember. I cried for a week and definitely do remember, so thanks for nothing mum. In fact, she wouldn’t even pay for me to have ice skating lessons in Melbourne. She said that, when I went to live with my dad in England over the summer, he could pay for them, and that there was no reason to learn ice skating in Australia. It didn’t matter that it was my dream, or the only thing I asked for for my twelfth birthday, mum thought it was stupid and so that was the end of that.
As I grew older, I realised that it was too late for me, that my dream of being a champion ice skater was never going to be realised, that I was simply too old to make it professionally. But since those days I have made a solemn promise to myself that I will never restrict my own children’s dreams the way my mother did. A dream exists to be encouraged, not denounced as stupid or impractical. A dream exists for a reason, something my mother never understood.