Leaving It All Behind

Leaving It All Behind

Status: Finished

Genre: Non-Fiction

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Non-Fiction

Houses:

Tags

Summary

This is a short story about a girl quitting her dream of gymnastics.
Share :
Twitter

Tags

Summary

This is a short story about a girl quitting her dream of gymnastics.

Content

Submitted: February 02, 2017

A A A | A A A

Content

Submitted: February 02, 2017

A A A

A A A



 

Leaving It All Behind

 

Lunging into the last leap was devastating. As soon as my left foot hit the surface of the suede beam I saw the rest of my life right in front of me. It was the last meet of the season and I didn't fall on any events but I still had to compete on the beam exercise. The moment I placed my hands on the beam for my final dismount the anxiety left my body. I twisted off the left side of the beam. Stuck the landing on the blue eight inch mat, without moving my feet. Luckily it was a soft landing because I came down with a good amount of power. I went running towards my coach with a huge smile on my face. I hugged her with almost too much power that she could've fell over. I then went to sit down on the long grey mat with my other teammates to wait for my score. Although the most important thing was to cheer my last teammate on while she was competing and finishing off the meet, just as I did.

The ten year old age group finally came along and surprisingly I got called up for every single event. Except the floor exercise which was very surprising since floor was my best event. Many gymnasts excel at the floor exercise and that’s why it is extremely hard to place unless you score a 9.3 or higher.

“And in 6th place with a 35.5 from Rettigs Gymnastics,” the announcer spoke.

“Omg that's going to be me, I got that same exact score,” I thought.

“….. Alina Parr.”

“Wow this is crazy! ME placing at a state competition in the all around especially. This has never happened before,” I thought, while walking up to the podium and reaching one foot out to step over the 6th place sign on the floor. I have to add that it was only two spots away from the mat podium.

All I heard were shouts from the parent’s section, “Go Alina,” “Yeah Liny!” “Get it girl!” I was embarrassed but at the same time excited to be awarded at a state championship competition.

Then my coach screamed, “Yeah, Alina! Woot WOOT!”

I stood up there feeling like a champion. I was so proud of myself and looking out into the distance my parents were standing there with huge smiles on their faces. In that moment, I felt as if this was going to be my future, and that I had improved so much this season. If I continued to improve at this rate the rest of my career would be even better. I realized that gymnastics had changed my life and who I was, not only as a gymnast but as a person too. I not only saw the sport as something I loved to do, but I saw that it helped me build strength, friendships, independence, etc... Throughout my gymnastics experience I had always been able to rely on my teammates to push me through tough workouts and get me through hard times.

Conditioning always calls for a friend nearby to talk to and forget about the pain. For beam it's always nice to have a teammate to cheer you up. Whether it's when you're crying because of fear from splitting the beam, missing a hand on a back handspring or maybe even missing a foot on your roundoff.

***

Three years passed, and my views on gymnastics completely changed. My feelings were in the air and no longer definite. I did not seem to enjoy the sport much anymore. Although for some reason I still wanted to pursue my dream of participating in college gymnastics. In this case I would need to continue doing gymnastics for four more years in high school to be eligible for the level of college gymnastics. I never felt or thought about quitting gymnastics even though sometimes I did hate it. Three years ago I was excited about going to practice and now it's the total opposite. I didn't necessarily know what had changed in my head. All I knew was that I didn't appreciate or consider gymnastics the same anymore.

It was the last weekend of summer 2k16 before school started up again. Sophie and Grace, two of my best friends, liked my idea of going into Westfield to shop at Urban Outfitters for part of the day. We decided to make a plan several days before which was to sleepover my house the day before then leave early in the morning and shop around for the day. Surprisingly, we stuck to the plan everything worked out perfectly to our liking. We left my house at around 10:45 and arrived in Westfield at 11:15. Our first stop was obviously Starbucks which we went to as soon as my Mom dropped us off. We waited in Starbucks for an absurd amount of time which was aggravating. After we finally received our drinks we walked to Urban Outfitters which was a block down on the corner of the Main Street. The old looking building used to be a bank which made it have a very rustic and antique feel. Shopping took at least four hours which isn't as long as usual, but we had a time limit according to my parents.

Walking out of the large clear doors with one bag each we waited by the stairs for the grey GMC to pull up along the sidewalk. We all stepped into the car and I was in the far right back seat. This was very unusual because my seat was the far left back seat.

My mom asked, “What did you guys buy? You were in there for at least four hours and you only came out with one bag each.” We all laughed.

“I bought only a couple things with my gift cards I had from before but I may order a few more things online that weren't in the stores,” Grace responded.

“I didn't want to buy too many unnecessary items because this store is very overpriced for clothing that isn't extraordinary,” Sophie told my Mom.

“I can show you what I got at home Mom but here’s your credit card.” I handed my Mom her dark blue sapphire card, which was abnormally thick but I didn't ask any questions.

“OH MY GOD,” Sophie gasped while interrupting my sentence. She flipped her head to turn and look at me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked in a worried tone.

“Miss Tori is quitting,” she replied sounding depressed, or like she would start crying in a few seconds.

“NO WAY! You're lying Sophie! What the heck! I'm so confused! She told us she would never leave us. Wait, how do you know I didn't get an email or notice about anything.” I asked questions repeatedly.

“Calm down Alina. It's going to be ok,” Grace tried calming me down but it didn't work. It just made me tense up even more and get annoyed.

“My mom got an email, she sent it to me.” We were all talking over each other and interrupting.

“Let me see it!” I said harshly and grabbed the phone out of her hands. I read the email to myself in my head and started to tear up. After reading this goodbye story I was silent. This was the moment I think I had been waiting for.

“Is this my chance to quit?” I thought. I began to wonder. My main coach or really the only one I liked is leaving the gym and won't be coaching me anymore. How would I ever improve or even survive at the gym without her there pushing me? She was the only person that I would trust or that would get me to the next level and where I wanted to be in my gymnastics career.

“I’m quitting,” I blurted out drastically. My mom and Grace both spoke to me and said that I shouldn't make sudden decisions because I may regret them in the long run. They told me I needed to think more about the situation and slow down. I needed to take this big news step by step and not rush into anything. I told myself I had to stop thinking about the situation and just take deep breaths. We still had to drop Sophie and Grace off at home so I had time to cool down and relax.

 

***

As soon as we pulled into my long driveway I opened the door and started to walk around the mulch in the center of my yard. It was circular shaped and had some pretty pink flowers growing in the middle. I was walking on the stone blocks that boarded off the area. I looked up deep into the blue sky with fluffy white clouds. It was a beautiful day outside, about 75 degrees, which was my vision of perfect weather. The sun was glistening into my eyes as I stood there weeping.  My mom grabbed me by the hand and brought me inside. We walked up the five stairs and through the doors. I tripped over myself and almost fell on my face but caught myself.

I  jumped up the first flight of stairs and ran into my bedroom. I slammed the door shut as part of letting my anger fall out of my body. I fell onto my thick blue fuff chair and just layed there. My face was burried into the seam where the zipper was, making it uncomfortable. At that point I didn't even care about the pain I was experiencing. Physically, I just felt as if my whole entire life was over. After about 30 minutes, I realized that I couldn't get through this situation alone. I stood up and looked in my long mirror that hung over the dresser and saw the red streaks going down my face . I took my finger and wiped it along my cheek feeling the tears dripping down like a waterfall. Placing both hands amongst my face as I tried to dry my face off so that I looked presentable. I knew that it was time to talk to someone about what I was feeling. My phone was across my room on my desk so I walked over and grabbed it off my book while plopping back down onto the bean bag chair. Seconds later I rolled off onto the scratchy rug. I opened my phone and took a deep breath and went onto the facetime app getting ready to call Sophie. Preparing myself so that I wouldn't cry over the phone because that it just obnoxious. I clicked on her name and it began to ring. She answered on the first ring.

“Aww Alina how are you?” she asked in a concerned manner.

“I'm not doing that great as you can see. I'm just really upset and still confused why Tori would do this to us? I thought she would stick with us till the end of our career in gymnastics, but I guess I was wrong. I wish I could do something to change her mind about the whole situation.”

“Yeah, I agree and totally understand where you're coming from. I'm probably going to move to JOGA now that she's leaving and if you don't stay there's no real point to do USAG.”

I began to talk but Sophie just interrupted me, “Did you just see what Tori texted all the Moms?”

“No,” I said in a confused tone “What did she say? Did she text all of the Moms including mine?”

“Yeah, go ask your Mom or look at her phone,” she replied.  

I told Sophie to stay on the phone while I went down the stairs and into the kitchen to grab my Mom’s phone off the top of the island. I opened up the mail app and saw there was no email, but then noticed text notifications that my Mom was receiving from gymnastics parents. I went onto iMessage and clicked onto the group chat and readMiss Tori’s text. It was basically a message telling all the parents that the email wasn't supposed to sound like she was quitting, but instead that she was just taking a break from full time work but she would still be at the gym as a part-time worker.

As I went back upstairs I screamed from the hallway into my room, “Soph, I'm back.” She got off of pause and we started talking about the text now. I told Sophie how I think Tori is just trying to make it seem like she isn't leaving, but sooner or later she would actually be gone from the gym for good. She just feels bad dropping us so suddenly. Instead she would transition into her other job gradually and maybe come into the gym 1-2 days a week. When Sophie spoke I realized that she was trying to defend our coach but at the same time agree with me. She told me she agreed and expressed to me what she was concerned about with her only coming to practice a few times a week. Sophie wanted me to know what she was thinking and how she thought logically she wasn't going to get all her skills for the next level. I knew Sophie had been thinking about moving to JOGA for a pretty long time now and I guess it was finally that time to make the next step in her gymnastics career.  Sophie wanted me to understand that I should do whatever would make me happy. I told her I needed to go and process all this information in my head and think more about the decision I wanted to make. Tori keeped switching things up on me which made it harder for me to decide.

 

***

College gymnastics was always a dream of mine. It was very different to the league I participated in which was USAG. I remembered sitting down in the stands near all the crazy parents and wild fan section. Hearing chants and screams that I had never heard so loud before. Watching as the girls ran down the long red strip of felt runway, as they swung from the chalky low bar to the high bar, as they ran across the blue square floor, and as they balanced on the beam upside down with both hands placed on the 4-inch surface.  The gymnasts all dressed in their nylon and spandex long sleeve leotards with sparkles on the front. All of their hair was up in high ponytails with ribbon wrapped around the top, makeup galore all over their face with black winged eyeliner, shiny eyeshadow, thick dark mascara, and the bright pink blush on all their cheeks.

I had pictured all of this in my head and my feelings towards the sport was excitement because I still felt as if I wanted to do college gymnastics. My thoughts were all over the place. I didn't know what I had wanted anymore. I began to write down a pro and con list on my blue boogie board. The board read: “Pros and Cons”. I looked at the board for a while and then chucked it across the room with furious aggression. I couldn't handle the stress anymore.

I went down the stairs a few hours later after I had cooled off. I went into the pantry to grab a snack. It was almost dinner time now but I was still hungry and extremely thirsty. My stomach was growling and I couldn't take the starvation any longer. When I came down the stairs both my parents were sitting at the island talking. Both of their eyes glaring at one another, swiveling side to side on the bar stools. I looked at them both with worry in my eyes.

“What is going on?” I asked them.

“We are just discussing the issue of not having Tori being a coach at Rettigs anymore,” my Mom replied.

“Why would you talk about this without me. This is my decision and I should be included in all the conversations.” I said with frustration.

“Let's not argue Alina. We can talk together now. So what are some pros and cons of doing gymnastics?” My Dad spoke while joining in on the conversation as always.  

“I already tried thinking of them but I just can't. This whole situation is really annoying me,” I grunted. My parents were real with me and told me the honest truth. They basically brought me into realty and straight up told me what possibilities could happen with my future in gymnastics. The way they were speaking and giving their opinions seemed as if they had wanted me to quit for awhile now. Then on the other hand it also seemed like they didn't want me to give up on my dream and have “wasted” all those years and money doing gymnastics. I felt like I needed someone to just make a decision for me. With all my indecisiveness, I wanted someone to just tell me what to do so I didn't have to pick. I didn't want to regret anything in the future. If I wasn't the one making the decision I would be able to blame someone instead of myself. I always need others opinions so that I could use it in a way to affect the outcome of my choice. Whether it was picking a dress to wear for Christmas or deciding on what I wanted for dinner it would always be difficult for me. Sometimes I just told my Mom to surprise me and choose herself. It came to a point where my Mom would scream at me and say “make up your own mind already and stop being so indecisive.” She reminded me that in the future I would have to realize that making decisions is important. This way in the future I wouldn't get used or forced into doing something I didn't necessarily want to do.

After a long day I just needed to get into bed and go to sleep because it really has been a long day and I don't think I had ever thought so much in my life. Laying in bed that night on my soft purple sheet with matching pillow case, I just stared at my bright white ceiling. My Mom came to tuck me in and took my five blankets on placed them on top of me gently. She rubbed my head and kissed me on the cheek.

“Think about it Alina, its up to you so don't stress ,” my mom said as she walked out of my room, lowered the light switch until it was pitch dark and I couldn't see anything.

She shut the door behind herself and I screamed, “Goodnight, Mom I love you. Good night Dad I love you.”

They replied, “Good night Alina I love you!” I had to remind myself that it didn't matter what my parents wanted. It was my choice and I could do whatever I wanted in this case. My parents loved me no matter what and they made sure I knew that. I closed my eyes shut to try and fall asleep but I just couldn’t. My mind then flashed back to moments when I struggled in gymnastics and when I needed Miss Tori the most. First beam, I was imagining all the months that I cried at practice every single day. I would pray every practice that beam wouldn’t be one of the events we would go to. Although I had bad luck. My coach loved going to beam mostly because it was our worst event as a team but beam was a daily event. We skipped it maybe once every month or so. I would break down because backhandspring were my biggest fear. I thought I couldn't do them physically but everyone else said it was really just a mental issue I had. Supposedly I had no confidence in myself or my gymnastics. This was probably the truth. I never trusted myself or my coaches because I would always think I was incapable of the skills I had to do.

Bars was another story. It wasn't that I cried everyday but most of them. Bars was the second most terrifying event after beam. Coincidently bars is one of the events our team is inconsistent with as well. On this apparatus giants were the struggle of my life. Not only was I scared but I also was scared to make the correction that every single coach would give me to “put my head in on my giants.” I would also fall over the other side of the bar almost every time I attempted to do them. Then, obviously I would have a punishment of climbing the rope every time I missed them or balked. I didn't think this was a fair punishment but I didn't necessarily have a say.

One of the worst things about gymnastics was seeing people get injured. Day after day someone would break their finger, sprain their ankle, or even tear a muscle in their back. Of course there is always a risk of getting hurt but seeing the injury take place in action is one of the worst things a gymnast can experience. Especially when it occurs on the events you are scared of to begin with. Let's say someone is up on the beam getting ready to do a back-handspring. Her hips could be un-squared, or she can close her eyes so that when she jumps back onto the 4 inch surface one of her hands slips off. Her hand may not even make contact at all with the beam and “BAM”. Her head goes smashing into the beam or floor. Her body comes falling after and she is now there laying on the ground crying. All the witnesses standing around not knowing what to do because of the shock that just went through their own body. Another example, is someone could be up on high beam doing a leap or series of jumps. She steps with one foot lunges with the other and leaps across the beam when the first foot comes down, it slips off the side and the gymnast goes tumbling down onto the beam. Completely splitting the beam with both her legs. She is now straddling the beam and twists off the side with bruises all over. Now thinking about this, absolutely doesn't make a gymnast want to go on afterward. Nor does it cause me to want to do gymnastics in general. These incidents can happen to anyone. They are dumb mistakes that seriously traumatize gymnasts no matter if it happened to them or they just happened to look at the wrong time. My thoughts started to drift off into my head while laying in bed. Sooner or later I wasn't thinking anymore. I was out.

I woke up to Shawn mendes singing his new album, “Life of a Party.” I took my phone and swiped over so that the alarm would shut off. I knew today would be interesting since it was Tuesday, which was a gymnastics practice day. Swiping over on my phone to unlock it and I began to go on snapchat. My mom came up the stairs and heard the noise coming from my room so she popped her head in to make sure I was awake.

“Good morning Liny! How are you feeling?” My mom asked in a subtle voice not trying to get me riled up again.

“I'm doing okay definitely better than last night, thanks for asking.” I answered in a moaning voice.

“Well I hope this makes the start of your day even better look at the email Tori just sent out to all of the parents.” She handed me her phone so that I could read the email. I handed the phone back to her before I could even read what it said.

“Can you just tell me what it says it's too early to be reading and your brightness is so high I just woke up.”

My mom then explained to me how Tori sent out another email. She was telling everyone how the first email about her “leaving the gym” is not at all what is happening. She said that tonight at practice she would come into the gym and explain what is going on with her life because the email that Dave sent in the first place was not at all her perspective of what is going to happen in the future. I looked at my mom and told her that I hoped this was finally the truth. Me and my mom both wondered what she was going to say and what was really going on now. All the parents must be so confused because of all the controversy. Since my parents had been continuously bugging me about what I was going to do I told them that I had to hear what she was going to say first. I explained to them that I needed to hear the truth before I could tell them what I wanted to do. Maybe when I heard what Tori had to say I would totally change my mind about possibly quitting. I honestly didn't know, which is why I had to wait and see what she had to say. I didn't want to stress about it because I already stressed enough last night. I told myself that I would just wait and see.

 

***

On the ride to cheer I started the conversation yet again about gymnastics. Although this time I remembered the important aspects that would influence my decision greatly. That year I made the varsity cheer team. As a freshman that was a huge accomplishment because usually freshman don't make varsity teams. Academics were a big deal in my family as well which is why I decided to take all honors classes that year. I had always strived to get good grades no matter what class it was. Since it was high school everything counted no matter what. I knew that it wasn't possible to keep up with everything I was doing because the schedules overlapped. On top of that I still had to keep my grades up.  To do both cheerleading and gymnastics was going to be extremely difficult and almost impossible. There was just not enough time in a day or days in a week to be able to do both. I would have cheer practice everyday after school until 5:30 which is when gymnastics starts. Then I would get home at 9:15 and have barely no time to do homework, if I wanted the sleep of an average teenager. My mom was discussing with me and surprisingly agreed. She said it would never work out because there is just too much to do and on top of that more stress wasn't good for me. I already had enough to handle. By the time we finished talking we had pulled into the back of the MHS parking lot where my mom dropped me off. I got out of the car, and before slamming the door told her to pick me up in two hours. I waved good bye and walked through the gate onto the track where practice had begun.

After I had gotten home from cheer time slowly ticked by. I was just waiting for the time to come for me to go to gymnastics and finally hear the truth and the real story of it all. After all the thinking I had done I thought I finally came to the realization that one of the reasons I haven't quit yet was because of my parents. I was too afraid that I would disappoint them. After all these years I felt like I would've just wasted their money. I hadn't liked the sport of gymnastics for about a year which made me feel even worse. Without even thinking about my coach leaving I finally figured out that it shouldn't matter about just the coach because if I really didn't like the sport I shouldn't be doing it. I had just been too caught up on the whole coach issue that I didn't even stop to think about my feelings, if I was happy and enjoying gymnastics. I had focused on the fact that I would be letting my parents down because they are so proud of me and all my accomplishments. They had been there for me through my whole career and continuously supported me no matter what. But most of all they invested their own money that they worked hard for, into me and this sport. Since I made the competitive team they had been hoping that scholarships would come from all of this time and effort we as a whole had spent. Before I went to gymnastics that day I told my parents to sit down. They took a seat on the soft black leather couch in our living room. I needed to discuss the issues I had been deliberating about. I told them everything I had been feeling including how I had not been enjoying gymnastics for a long time now. To my surprise they weren't shocked. They told me that they had seen me lose interest in the sport. My parents said that seeing me complain about going to practice almost everyday had been hard to watch because they understood how much I used to enjoy it. Remarkably my parents told me that all they wanted is for me to enjoy life and be satisfied. They said that nothing else is important besides my happiness and that's all that mattered to them.

“And Alina if you think that you wasted your time all these years by doing gymnastics you are definitely wrong. Gymnastics has taught you so many thing and has benefited you in many different ways not only physically but mentally too,” my mom told me.

“Yeah I guess so but…”

My mom interrupted, “Stop right there it's time to go to gymnastics so stop beating yourself up and go get ready.” I went upstairs into my room and went to get into my leotard for practice tonight. I had no clue what I was going to hear tonight but I was ready to listen to whatever is said.

 

***

I walked through the front doors of the gym and right when I entered I looked for Tori. Unexpectedly I didn't see her anywhere. I wondered where she could be. I went through the gate to get upstairs. As soon as I stepped foot onto the yellow carpet of the upstairs I saw and heard everyone whispering and gossiping about her. I hadn't wanted to get involved because I already had heard too many fake rumors and stories. I was just going to wait for the truth. I figured that since Tori wasn't there at the moment when we had gotten called down, she would have been coming at the end of practice.

A little later I walked up to two of my teammates and said, “by the way guys I may be quitting gymnastics.”

Right when those words came out of my mouth they whipped their heads back, pony tails whipping them in the face and gasped, “NO YOU ARE NOT!”

“Shhhhhh be quiet I don't know if I am yet but i'm thinking about it.”  I responded to their scream because I didn't know what to do. I explained to them my situation and made sure to tell them that it's not only because of Tori but also that gymnastics wasn't fun for me anymore and how I didn't appreciate the sport. I only wanted to be happy and that was my main concern. Continuing gymnastics would not make me happy but instead miserable and stressed. I didn't want to make my teammates sad. I just needed to tell them so it wasn't unexpected if I came to the decision to actually quit, which is what I was leaning towards.

After our last event on bars we went to get a drink from the water table and the doors of the gym opened. It was her, the one who caused all the problems and commotion. We were called to the floor so that she could explain. Everyone ran over and sat down facing Mrs.Tori who was leaning on the large orange barrel. She stood in the front of the gym and told her story. She told us everything about her whole life. Basically she can't work two full time jobs. Instead she is going to do personal training full time and will come into the gym maybe once or twice a week. Working as a part time coach. She explained how the email was never supposed to be sent out like that but Dave just wanted to inform everyone as soon as he heard the news. This way he would have time to start looking for new full-time coaches because he would be down a staff member yet again. She never meant to hurt us nor would she ever leave us in a hurry like that. She does need more money, and personal training probably pays better so she needed to do what was best for her and her baby. It made me think for a little bit that she's not really leaving. I knew she would only be at the gym maybe once or twice a week and would definitely not be my main coach anymore. She would have to split herself up between all the groups she used to coach and it would be too much. After she was done speaking she hugged everyone individually. At that moment I made my decision that wasn't just based on her but I everything I had been thinking over the past two days, added up together. I knew gymnastics wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I no longer wanted to practice the sport. I had made my decision and I was happy with it. I had to let go, I left it all behind.

 


© Copyright 2017 Alena Paris. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Non-Fiction Short Stories

Booksie Spring 2017 Flash Fiction Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Alena Paris

Leaving It All Behind

Short Story / Non-Fiction

Popular Tags