Growing up I always pictured myself as a gymnast, twirling here and there. Cartwheeling all over the place like it was my job, I have no words for the happiness I felt with chalk on my hands and a trampoline under my feet. The first time I set foot into a gymnastics facility was about 12 years ago. I was ten and my mom bought me this silly pink leotard with a skirt and I wore it like it was the official Olympic outfit for the American team.
I made short work of the three levels I had to complete before I could compete. I was driven. I was passionate. It was my life. Soon I traded in that pink leo for a red one and then a black team leotard and then a purple one. I loved every second of it.
I took pride in showing up to school with rips and callouses on my hands. In gym class I could crank out more push ups and chin ups than half of the boys and I could tumble across the floor to the music in my head.
Walking away from the sport is something I regret, because I had the skill to make it a lot farther than I did. Even now though, an empty gymnasium floor or large flat field call to me. They beckon me to come over and do a flip. Just one! They shriek. You know you want to! You know you'll like it!
And there's nothing more satisfying than sticking a round off back hand spring back tuck across the lawn. Breathe in, breathe out, muscle memory, stick it, salute.
So when the Olympics are playing women's gymnastics, you're not going to get me away from the TV easily. I remember watching Carly Patterson and then Nastia Liukin and now this Fab Five. I can't get enough. I want to go back in time. I want to be them. I want to feel that floor under my feet, the chalky bar in my palms and I want to breathe in the hard work and sweat. There's just nothing like it in the world.