Saturday, August 26, 2017


Thursday was kind of a flipped out day.

Not in a crazy way. Well yes and no. I did three front handsprings. This was after years of not training. There were no crash mats. My attire was not even gym attire. No leos or athletic shorts. Just a 32 year old Princess Pan who felt the need to do something in the moment. It wasn't planned. This just happened. The first was during a singing telegram where I was dressed as a chicken. The second and third were both at the middle and the end of a standup set uptown. I could have gotten seriously injured. A 32 year old body is not a 12 year old body.

To give you an idea of how nutso this is, I have a friend who also did gymnastics as a kid. Her coach told the squad, "Get as good as you can before puberty, because once you hit puberty you are out of here."

Yes, gymnastics is a sport for the young and insane. The goal of gymnastics is to stay on the perspective apparatus and not to fall let alone break your neck. Your parents watch in horror as you fling yourself around and you can only think, "WEEEEEHHHHHYYYEEEAAAAHHH!!!"

But the older you get the harder it is. Once you hit puberty, your bones are a tad weaker. You get taller which means you can't go around as many times. And then you get boobs and hips and they weigh you down. So most girls either quit, go to cheerleading or diving. I was a terrible diver and wasn't cool enough for the pep squad, so when my injuries started to plague me I just focused on performing.

As I have gotten older I can still do a few moves because I stayed in shape. However, I am not attempting a back tuck, half twist, or even a side aerial. I did a few back handsprings for my class in college, but after my elbow locked that dream died. I have flirted with the idea of adult gymnastics, but today as my bones hurt and I remember how many muscles I used to use that dream is dying too. Someone asked if this was going to become a regular part of my routine. Only if the venue has a crash mat. My manager has yet to add that to my rider.

In some ways I regret letting my gymnastics go. It was a combination of things. It was growth spurts. It was injuries. It was the fact that the gym in my area that produced elites was two hours away and would have been a four hour drive each time we went. And then there weren't that many scholarships. The dance school in my area that offered acro when my school was sold closed as soon as it opened. Basically, it was time to hang up the leo and do other things.

My sister and I laugh about it all now. She was my acro dance partner and used to kick me quite a bit because she was the smaller of the two of us. We were watching the 2016 Olympics, seeing the gymnasts that progressed to adulthood. As the events unfolded my sister observed, "Whoever thought of balance beam.......that was a really bad idea." Yes, once a gymnast and now an ER doc. She knew this could go bad real quick.

As far as the gymnastics goes, I know I didn't go all the way. But gymnastics is a metaphor for life. So much of gymnastics is falling and failing until you master a new skill. And each time you fall, you get back up again. One must do the same thing when they fall and fail at life, whether it is a career, relationship, whatever. Also, gymnastics is focusing on the task of mastering a skill or routine without attaching emotion or attitude to it. Sometimes we need these same tools to get through difficult pockets in life. And maybe this is why I am attracted to comedy, because you fall and fail until you get funny and you do this at each level. In falling, can either quit or get better. The choice is yours.

Ironically each Thursday was my gymnastics night at my dance school where I was in the advanced group. I would go eat dinner, go to class, come home, and have a snack in front of the TV with my dad who was watching our newly discovered cable. Maybe I am longing for the good old days, or maybe I am happy about life again after a very long time. Maybe it's a combination of both.

Either way, Simone Biles, you better let me borrow your advil. These 32 year old bones need it.

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