There was a time, in the little town of Tok, Alaska, when gymnastics was offered to us kids. The fact that our school in the isolated interior of Alaska had gymnastic equipment makes me wonder what the story is behind that. If anybody knows, please post it here. We also had a room full of roller skates that we would use in P.E. class or on special skate nights in the gym. Where those skates came from originally, I do not know either (maybe they came as a bundle package with the gymnastic equipment). What I do know, is that they provided endless hours of skating fun. I can still feel the wind in my hair as I circled on the smooth and glossy floor one hundred times to music piped out from the stage area at the end of the gym. The lights were down low, and for me, it was pure speed and joy as I raced around in circles.
As a kid, I didn’t even ponder the how or why of the opportunities, I simply lived in the now of those offerings. Like the offering to gain some knowledge about gymnastics. Jumping at the chance to learn how to tumble and do something other than a cherry drop off the bar out at recess, I eagerly embraced my training. As you can see, I had no fashion sense and really no coordination either. I learned to dip my toe on the balance beam so I looked more elegant walking across (whether that was accomplished or not will never be known) and I became more confident in my already stellar cherry drop on the low bar. I more often than not swung my leg up and over the low bar and hung there like a monkey not knowing what to do next for any other move my instructor tried to teach me. That was about the extent of my skills progression in gymnastics.
I somersaulted, cartwheeled, and attempted a back bend, but other girls were far surpassing my abilities as they effortlessly did the splits while I watched on in girlish envy. My splits looked more like I was bending over to do a stretch before a race. I had not been blessed with the gift of flexibility. Some even mastered the back and front walkover. I, on the other hand, adjusted my leg warmers and awkwardly did a hand stand for less than a second and then fell ungracefully over onto my back with a hard thump. It was the best walkover I could do and I knew that. What I lacked for in skill, I more than made up for in confidence and leg warmers, making the experience wonderful, fun and worth every moment.
Here’s to “learning” new skills . . . . Here’s to Growing up Alaska.