My mind wanders during gymnastics.
There is the preschool class, the little girls who are just giving this a try. They have such sweet lines, round tummies, and the pockets of sugar that can only be found on a little girl who still wears a princess nightgown to bed.
Then there are the elementary-age girls, and they could be here for any of many reasons, not the least of which is social. Gymnastics and athletics may or may not be on the agenda. A few shine as future Olympians, and the rest flip and giggle and adjust their ponytails. The older groups contain girls who are serious, who have muscles in their thighs and their upper arms. They have a dusting of white powder on their hands, and they walk with grace and authority.
I’m pretty sure they own the room at any pool party. I’ve attended many a pool party with their kind. Or, I haven’t, actually. I don’t really go to pool parties. Haven’t since I was, well, younger than those lovely girls with the slender limbs of Charlotte.
One sweet, little gymnast flips and turns, walking her body backwards, hands over feet. Probably nine years old, she is long and lean, her blond hair pulled into a loose ponytail with fly-away wisps held loosely with an orange barrette that matches her team uniform leotard. Her movements are graceful. Her body is her own.
It seems to me that the world will belong to her. The world belongs to gymnasts, to the small and thin, to those whose bodies make sense to them. The rest of us must make sense of things on our own.
I hope for her that she will learn herself before her body is no longer in her favor. Because it will not always be. For now, she flips and turns with the ease of a falling leaf, with a similar carefree breeze.
There are so many shapes and sizes in this room. My heart goes out to the girl who is shaped more like the number 8 than the letter i.
I want to give her a tube of red lipstick so she can write across her bathroom mirror, “I am crazy beautiful.”