Lwoods4's Blog

Missing Gymnastics..

Posted on: November 15, 2010

For those of you who did gymnastics with me, the details are from memory. I did not take a trip to the gym recently.  It was an assignment on place. I miss you all!

Palatine Gymnastics Club

The smell of chalk and sweat is overwhelming from the moment I pull into the parking lot with the windows rolled down.  The familiar lot that is still too small is full and unwelcoming.  The fading early evening sun glistens off the sand volleyball courts.  In front of them, the tree we dedicated to Kristen’s short life has started to grow.  Tearfully, we all huddled around and let balloons go in her favorite colors.  I haven’t been back here since cystic fibrosis claimed her life, how many years ago?  We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the green grass during summer camp.  There was a little girl who looked up to me that week from behind the rims of her glasses.  Her dad told me she wanted to be just like me one day.  I was practicing a trick I never competed, a handspring full on vault.  Kids play in the park on the corner of the track waiting for football practice to be over so they can go home with their older brothers for a late dinner.   The sign remains tacked to the brick wall of the old building. Palatine Gymnastics Club.  The long, concrete hallway seems so much smaller now.  All the home meets we held here, girls in leos waiting for their turn to compete.  The place I sat waiting, shaking, my nerves spilling out onto the floor.  The bulletin board still holds the same articles.  A few are about Fremd or Palatine high schools, but mostly the articles are about Linda or Caitlin, who are both in college too now.  I bypass the viewing room. I spent 15 years of my life here; someone has to know me still.  The door is open, but the office is vacant.  My favorite beam stares me in the face. Wall sits, circuits, giants, fulls, flip flops, V-ups, back walk overs, back tucks. “My dead grandma moves faster than you.”  Waiting for my turn, watching the others, visualizing, full turns, double backs, t-suks. I can see Kristen sticking her tongue out at me as I worked up the nerve to do my cartwheel ganor dismount off beam.  Unfamiliar girls stare at me now.  So young.  They stretch on the worn out carpet of the strip under the windows I’ve kicked doing pirouettes.  Someone’s floor music is playing at the other end.  I head to my right, knowing exactly where to step.  The 9.0 club still exists with many more names on it than when I was a practicing gymnast here.  I poke my head in the bathroom as I pass.  Still the same. So many tears have been shed in there.  I remember the photography project I did in high school. Megan was my subject.  As I look in the mirror, I can still see the reflection of her taking off her grips, chalk in a thick line where the bar was at her hips.  I stood in the corner, my own hands ripped up and chalky, in my favorite velvet leotard, as I snapped a picture, her back in the foreground, her face in the reflection of the mirror.  Back out in the gym, I high fived the vault. It never caused me any real harm.  I side stepped the tape measure and held my breath to avoid the stench of dirty feet the resi behind the single bar permanently gives off. Two sets of bars with a strap bar still. Straddle backs, double backs, front giants, the time Tierney broke her back, coach’s kips during the lock in.  We slept on mats we usually landed on.  Everything is still covered in blue; blue mats, blue carpets, blue cubbies, blue doors.  Jodi, choreographing Abby’s routine, danced her way over to give me a hug.  I said hi to Abby. Two familiar faces.  Three if you count Barb who is around here somewhere.  I hung around for a while and did a few tricks, remembering how it felt to spend all my time here, the friends I made, the skills I did and didn’t do.  This is still the place it always was. Round off full.  My smile fades as I climb out of the foam pit filled with boogers and Band-Aids, knowing it is time for me to go.


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  • BFF: LOVE this post. The third picture is my favorite and really resonates with me. Instead of comparing our lives to those of others, we should be immense
  • Cindy Friesen: Im so glad you are having fun! I cant wait to see pictures! Have you had a Paini yet or a Crepe?! How about Tapas and Paella? Or Sangria!!!! Are you g
  • Kiersten Trillhaase: You can have this AND a Mastiff or Great Dane, but you cannot choose it over the other dogs- I will not let you. P.S. Love the post about skyping


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