Five years ago, when I transferred to the Kansas City Roller Warriors, I met a skater named Gypsy Roller. I could tell by the way she skated that she was also a new transfer. She was small like me, all tatted up, and she had a quirky, dark whit about her. A few short weeks into skating with her, she casually mentioned she was changing her derby name to Chum Fiesta. The name was taken from a punk song she loved, but more importantly she said, a bucket of fish guts used for shark bait. She said it suited her more appropriately. Obviously, I really wanted to be her friend.
Since then, our friendship was sealed over things like mid-game butt slaps, countless travel, stories about Campbell’s soup casseroles from our youth, our favorite yarns, chickpeas and pizza, a mutual love of MxPx… The list goes on. So when she told me over a year ago that she and her family were moving to Bangkok for a year, I was a
bit whole lotta heartbroken.
I made a promise to myself, though. And to Chum. I knew I’d be retiring from roller derby this year, so I decided upon learning about her move that I’d celebrate my retirement by visiting Chum in Thailand.
I knew the trip would be good for the soul on a number of levels. For me, it would help me move forward from having to give up roller derby before I was entirely ready. For Chum, it would help give her something to look forward to while she was away.
Over the course of the year, the trip plans grew rapidly — expanding from me alone to include a close friend of mine, Brian (who I’ve known since junior high) and his now-fiancé Tim (more on that later), both who met Chum at one of our bouts in Chicago last year and who all clicked as if they were kindred spirits, as well as my boyfriend, who thought Chum’s husband Sam was incredible before he had put two-and-two together about who Sam was. I would be the glue that bound our little team of misfits together.
So while the trip was amazing on so many levels, at its most basic core, it existed because I needed a dear friend back in my life.
The best news? She’ll be back in Kansas City just three weeks after our return. I cannot wait.
I have lots of stories to share, so I’ll do that soon. But for now, cheers to great friends who are open to experiencing unforgettable adventures with you.