"No, that's okay. I did gymnastics for seven years". Those were the words I uttered to a nice stranger (in retrospect, thank you would have been better and more appropriate), who offered me his hand as I was crawling out of a window of my toppled over on its side car during a pretty bad but could have been so much worse car accident several years ago. I'm sure it was a mixture of shock that made me blurt this out at the time. To that nice stranger, thank you.
For the better part of the 90s, I was convinced that tumbling was my calling. My parents bought me a mat and a floor foam beam for Christmas. I read this series like it was my job and taped every gymnastics competition that was on TV. I named one of my guinea pigs after Kim Zmeskal. My mom ripped out an article about the World Championships from a Sports Illustrated magazine that belonged to the North Carolina beach house we were staying in for me. I dragged my parents to stand in line and meet Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner at my local Younkers at an autograph signing. I whined at the high school and college kids that worked at the before and after school program at my elementary school to take the mats off the gym wall so I could practice aerials and handsprings (I'm sure there was a lawsuit waiting to happen there). I'm fairly certain that I said that I wanted to start my own gym and coach when I grew up. A girl obsessed.
That girl is gone. She can still do a cartwheel, maybe even a nearly vertical handstand but she no longer knows the players of the game, she has no idea what this crazy scoring system is about and she can't say for certain what she wants to do when she grows up. This year though, cauldron lit, a second gymnast in the Olympics who trains in her home state and there's a little flicker of that other girl.
Are you watching the Olympics? I'm sure you've seen this, but in case you needed to get in a good cry for the day, here it is.