January 3rd, 2015 was the happiest day I’ve had in a VERY long time. Two days ago, I reunited with my coach and teammates for the first time in nearly 2 years!!!!!!
I can’t even put into words how amazing that day was. In the early afternoon, my mom drove me to SF, where I met up with my old teammate, Lucie. Lucie and I had not seen each other in nearly two years, although we’ve texted each other periodically. After the initial pure euphoria of seeing each other, we obviously did a lot of catching up. Lucie also quit gymnastics back in September, and we both missed gym like crazy.
After spending a couple hours at her house, Lucie and I went to this beautiful park with a gorgeous panoramic view of the city, where we took a bunch of “artsy” pictures. We also took pictures of each other doing rhythmic gymnastics, which attracted a lot of attention from people 🙂
At 4:00, Lucie’s dad drove us to our old gym so we could visit our coach and teammates!!! When I planned this visit a few days earlier, I felt nothing but excitement in seeing my people. The gym has always been my home away from home, my gym people my second family. I was in my element when I was at the gym. It was place where I have always felt 100% confident and happy.
But during the car ride to the gym that day, I was super nervous. Insecurities inundated my brain. Superficial as this may sound, I was extremely concerned with my weight, as I had gained a lot of weight since quitting gymnastics. I was worried about what everyone would think about the way I looked now compared to before.
Mostly, though, I was afraid that visiting the gym would open old wounds. For nearly two years after quitting gymnastics, I’ve struggled with trying to move on from this past life and accept that I could no longer do gymnastics. Only recently have I been able to come to terms with my injury and finish grieving. There was not a doubt in my mind that going back to the gym and watching my teammates practice would turn the nostalgia level on full blast. I knew this, and I was afraid of what this would do to the recent progress I had made in getting over gymnastics. But I also knew that I had to see everyone, because you don’t just abandon and forget the people who have been by your side and supported you for the past years.
When we arrived at the gym, I didn’t see my head coach, which sucked because I really wanted to surprise her (I later found out that she left shortly before I visited). I did see the other coach, Olga, who was giving a private lesson to one of my teammates. I walked up to her, and she was squinting really hard because she doesn’t have very good eyesight and also because she didn’t recognize me. When I was right in front of her, she finally registered who I was and gave me a big hug, asking me how old I was and telling me that she didn’t recognize me!!!
I then turned to my teammate who was having the private lesson. I will call this teammate Eleonora (not her real name). Eleonora and I go WAY WAY back. She and I were, and still are, super close. Back when I still competed, my mom could never take me to practice or competitions because she had my two brothers to take care of. Eleonora and her mom were extremely nice and took me to every single gymnastics practice and every single competition, both in state and out of state. They were pretty much like family, and I love them with all my heart.
So anyway, seeing Eleonora after all those years apart was amazing. She and I hugged for like several minutes, and I nearly cried because I missed her so much!!!
I remember thinking to myself during the reunion that it was stupid of me to feel anxious about my gym people judging my body. They are my people, and I feel completely comfortable with myself around them. The minute I stepped foot inside the gym, I felt at home again.
(Lucie caught the entire reunion on camera)
After reuniting, Eleonora had to get back to practice, so Lucie and I did some gymnastics. As I was stretching, I was watching Eleonora practice her routines, and the amount of improvement she had was INSANE. As I watched her, I felt so happy and proud of her because I know how hard she works and how dedicated she is to the sport.
Lucie had to leave after ten minutes, so I said goodbye to her and promised her that we would hang out more often. For the next two hours I continued doing gymnastics. Never in my life did I imagine myself training again in the gym. I felt as if I had never left.
Doing gymnastics at my old gym did indeed bring back a lot of old memories. It reminded me of how much I loved my sport, and I just knew that I had to find a way to get back into rhythmic gymnastics.
At 6:00, Eleonora’s mom came to pick up Eleonora and take me home (just like old times). When I saw Eleonora’s mom, I was SO happy!!!!! Eleonora’s mom is pretty much my second mom 🙂 I gave her a big big hug and told her how much I missed her.
After saying goodbye to Olga (who is under the impression that I will come back to gymnastics), Eleonora, her mom and I got in the car are started catching up on the past two years.
I pretty much spilled everything to them because they are like family and I feel completely comfortable sharing everything with them. During the car ride, Eleonora and I made the decision to convince my mom to let me come back to gymnastics. By coming back to gymnastics, I mean just going once a week every Saturday morning. With high school and everything else going on in my life, I know that I won’t be able to compete like I did in the past. But that day I learned that simply being at the gym made me happy, and going once a week with Eleonora and just being in the place I love is so much better than not going at all.
When we arrived at my house, my mom reunited with Eleonora and her mom. As the two moms were catching up, Eleonora and I were trying to think of a way to convince my mom to let me go back. I suggested that Eleonora make puppy dog eyes to my mom 🙂 In the end we decided that spontaneity was the best way to go about this.
Eleonora walked up to my mom and simply asked her if I could come back to gymnastics. My mom did not overtly say I couldn’t go back, although she did tell me to remember the reason why I quit (knee injury). I told her my injury was healed, and going once a week recreationally would not be too hard on my knees. After much reasoning, my mom said she would consider it, which is a good sign!!!
After a lot more catching up, Eleonora and her mom had to go home, so we said our goodbyes. Though we didn’t say it out loud, Eleonora and I had no doubt in our minds that we would be seeing each other very soon 🙂