Ten Days. That’s how long it takes for me to recover from photographing roller derby on Father’s Day weekend. (I don’t know how long it takes for the skaters.)
When the schedule for the 2014 Golden Bowl roller derby tournament was released, I was excited. Four top WFTDA teams would compete at a Bay Area venue that provides great photo opportunities. I would celebrate the end of the school year by photographing the Windy City Rollers, the Hollywood Scarlets, the San Diego SoCal team, and the local Golden Girls. I forgot about Father’s Day.
Each year, I forget that Father’s Day is going to be difficult. I love being a father more than anything. Father’s Day and derby are not a conflict. I love bringing my kids to derby, and they love going. Father’s Day is just a difficult day for me to remember that I love being a father, because my father and I had a difficult relationship. He’s been dead for almost ten years and we still have a difficult relationship.
I still had a great weekend and took some interesting pictures. On the Saturday before Father’s Day, I photographed three bouts. I also saw my first junior roller derby bout. I wish my kids had been with me to see the young skaters. One of the kids was only eight years old. I have an eight year old son and ten year old daughter.
During the second bout, an all female skating crew officiated. The broadcasters announced that the all women crew was a first for a WFTDA sanctioned bout. Before that bout, I do not remember seeing an all-female crew, so it is possible, but I found it hard to believe that it was the first… and the reason? It was the day before Father’s Day and I was a little crazy.
I start losing my faith around Father’s Day and I begin questioning almost everything. I start wondering if people are poking fun of me. And yet, I still show up. Why is that? Why do I keep going to derby and exposing what feels like my weaknesses? Why did I return Sunday with my children?
Even on my best days, I still find myself behaving lost at derby. I try to be everything. I try to be a father, friend, perfect man. I try to a good photographer and a better person. I also try to tell an important story that is my story. The announcers referred to the all-female officiating crew as #HerStory. I conceptualize much of derby as #HerStory. I also believe that a woman should tell #HerStory. I tell a variation of a theme.
I can take a decent photograph. I can discuss how I was influenced by women when I was a kid. I can argue that young boys benefit from seeing strong women and I can share how I have been intentional about bringing my daughter to bouts. That is not herstory. That is a version of my story.
My story is also shaped by suicide and seizures. Most days, I am grateful for having survived my struggles. I even laugh at my own insecurities. Other days I am more vulnerable and I see #MyStory where it was not intended. During half-time of Saturday’s last bout, there was a Julius Caesar themed dance contest. Caesar fought invisible lions while five dancers performed for Caesar’s pleasure. A little kid eventually won the dance contest outlasting four adults.
When people have asked me to describe auras, I have used a metaphor that is similar to “fighting invisible lions.” Caesar supposedly had epilepsy too. I fight invisible lions so that my little girl can dance. I face my fears so that my kids can remember their father.