One of the first things I learned about when entering into the world of derby was “the derby widow”.
It seemed to be the stuff of folklore. I could not believe my ears as one cautionary tale after another was shared over a pitcher of beer or standing in line for a drill at bootcamp. Stories of long term marriages crumbling in a matter of months or relationships shattered in a horrible and messy collapse once derby became a part of the equation.
I also learned early on that the derby widow did not discriminate. It wasn’t only the cause of ex-partners and lovers, but left many other important relationships in its wake. There were the “non-derby friends”, family and pretty much anyone else in your previous “non-derby life” that suffered the widow’s kiss of death.
This just seemed insane. I have played sports my entire life and never sat across from an opponent at the pub during the after party and talked about how she heard that so and so from that other league just got a divorce and was now dating that skater from her league and blah blah blah.
Then again, I also never sat across from an opponent at a pub during an after party before.
That’s the thing about derby. It’s just different. Although it does seem to (at times) be the catalyst for break ups and fall outs and the complete disappearance of your friend/wife/mother/sister/etc, it also is the creator of some seriously deep and passionate relationships.
It has been said by those who have experienced the derby widow effect that derby brings out a side of people…a side that perhaps would never have been able to be expressed in any other environment. And sometimes this side takes over and that person realizes their life and all those who were a part of it, just doesn’t match up with who they have become.
I would agree with this. I have often said that Evada has given the opportunity to show a side of myself I never felt comfortable showing before. I can honestly say that the pre-derby anti-social version of myself would never have said yes to jumping into a vehicle with somebody I barely knew to spend 3 days at a bootcamp in Seattle with more people I’d never met. Or said yes to flying out of the country (the next weekend) to spend days and nights with strangers, without a single close friend in sight. Pre-derby me would have said that sounded like a nightmare. Evada says HELL YES and doesn’t think twice. I like this.
So now that I have experienced the “derby world” for over a year, I would also like to share my cautionary tale about the derby widow. It will happen. You will lose friends. You will risk losing your job. You will miss family events. You will be known for “ditching out for derby” and you will find it difficult to not talk about derby to those who don’t really want to talk about derby.
But, please know, you will also meet the most amazing, interesting and unique people that were somehow hidden in your small town, or lost in the crowd of your big city. You will fall in love over and over and over again with a lot of people. You may create a derby widow or two or twenty, but you will also find a derby wife…or two…or three.
If you’re lucky, you will be able to have your cupcake and eat it too. It definitely isn’t easy, but if it’s worth it, your non-derby people will understand, and keep loving you. And you will love them back for nodding and smiling as you gush about your new skates, or vent about last practice or explain that you will be off to another bootcamp next weekend…again.
Overall derby has brought nothing but positivity and excitement and passion to my life, and though there have been a few widows along the way, I’m happy to say I’ve managed to become a derby polygamist, and there is always room for more. 😉
Photo provided by fellow blogger and derby enthusiast, Wry ‘N’ Ginger, check her out at: http://cquilty.tumblr.com