Gymnastics

Dance 1 handed somersault 85.jpg

This was a well-timed photograph more than a skillful gambol.

When I was young, I took what was billed as a gymnastics class, though it was more tumbling than gymnastics. We did cartwheels, somersaults, and handsprings and that was about it. My son, who is currently the same age I was in this picture, takes real gymnastics at a facility that has all the equipment you see in the Olympics and similar events. He’s still mostly doing tumbling, though he’s begun working a bit on the rings and some of the various sorts of bars.

My class was taught at a little dance school, which I remember as a small building with a small, cluttered lobby and one room with a wooden floor, mirrored walls, and a ballet bar. Although I perhaps wasn’t as great at it is this lucky photograph would seem to suggest, I eventually outgrew the class, and my parents debated getting me in a class in the larger town nearby (my town rounded its population up to 3,000). For whatever reason (likely convenience, since it would have been an hour drive each way), that never happened.

I remember doing two recitals while taking classes with a teacher I believe we called Ms. Jane. In the picture above, it’s clear that we had some sort of military theme. For the other recital, I had a Superman costume. I don’t remember much about the recitals other than that we did a series of tumbles across the stage. There was ballet and clogging too, and my sister participated in both of these (I’ll do her the kindness of not sharing any of those photos).

Among my most vivid memories of my gymnastics class was running through the giant cluster of pampas bushes in front of the building one day while waiting for my mom to come pick me up. Two or three of us chased one another around and through the bushes, and when my mom arrived, I stopped and discovered that my skin was scored all over with little painless cuts from the serrated edges of the grass’s blades.

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