Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gymnasts, defying gravity

I pulled open the heavy glass door with gusto. Never nervous, never shy for this weekly session. My gymnastics class.

My grungy sneakers landed with a plop in the corner of the gym. I wiggled my toes to give them some air and hopped onto the blue mat floor with enough built-in spring to tease gravity just a little bit. We gathered together, pre-teen girls with giggles and chatter, ready to flip and spin until our foreheads glistened.

I was not very good at gymnastics. My back handspring never quite... sprung. Without a trusted instructor by my side, my head would have taken a few too many thumps. My vault was not bad... if you could ignore the fact that I did no twist, no turns. Just a flying leap up and over. My beam work and bar routines? Adequate, but timid.

But oh, did I love gymnastics. I remember with fondness the puff of white powder when I clapped my hands together before hopping up to the low bar. (I think I recall a girl who liked to lick the chalk off her hands as well... but maybe that is a post for a different day?) The flow of air across my then-nimble body refreshed my soul as I rocked, back and forth, gaining momentum to somehow leap forward to grasp the high bar with a death-hold grip. My feet, tanned from summers at the pool, made the perfect swish-swish sound as I made my way, quickly, across the four-inch wide beam. I could do a handstand dismount off the apparatus, and I held this trick in my heart with pride. My most advanced maneuver! 

I was not a gymnastics phenom. My high(mediocre?)-flying adventures did not last very long. But I loved every minute regardless. This week, I will be watching the Summer Olympics gymnastic coverage with the light, happy heart of an eleven-year-old who knows, in a small way, how it feels to defy gravity.

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