I wanted to be a gymnast, and I was pretty sure I could do it. I had the right build, a little bit of talent, and a lot of enthusiasm. As a kid, I lived in a leotard and traveled via cartwheel. I could drop into a banana split anywhere, anytime, and if I wasn’t executing a round-off/back-handspring combo across your front lawn, I was trying to recruit you for the neighborhood Olympics. After a year of lessons at a local gym, I was invited to join a team and compete seriously.
But I didn’t. Even if my parents hadn’t put the kabash on the idea of a gymnastics career (they felt it was more important for me to get an education and for them to put food on the table), the fact was that I had started training too late in life to think of competing seriously. I was devastated with thoughts of what could have been, but eventually hung up my leotard and set my sights on becoming either the first female network news anchor or Michael J. Fox’s wife. And it was all for the best, because as my friend V later pointed out to me, “If you had kept training, you would have never developed boobs.”
I can’t say I’m very athletic anymore – the mere thought of attempting the splits requires an epidural and the last time I tried to do a handstand, I had to put my head between my legs. But I still try to bust a move every now and then, to show off for my kids or get the old familiar rush.
And it is a rush. There’s something about gymnastics that is so powerful and thrilling – it’s like ballet with balls. I turned 37 while on vacation last week and to mark the occasion, I did a string of cartwheels on the beach. They were not perfect, but at least I pointed that one toe and didn’t pull anything.
In fact, I’m going to make it a birthday tradition for as long as I can.
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