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Sunday, August 01, 2010

One Degree from Bart & Nadia

Once upon a time I was going to name my children Bartholomew Kurtis and Nadia fill-in-the-blank. I was all over the place on middle names for my daughter. Nadia Olga just didn’t have much of a ring to it. Nadia Talavera was seriously contemplated (I couldn’t name her Nadia Tracee for obvious reasons), as was Nadia Julianne and Nadia Kathleen. I had no idea if Kathy Johnson’s proper name was Kathleen, just as I was unsure Bart Conner was really a Bartholomew or Kurt Thomas was really a Kurtis, but the combinations paid the proper homage to the gods of my ten through thirteen-year-old world.

By the time MaryLou came along, or perhaps because of MaryLou, who was more or less my age-mate, I had passed on dreams of naming my children after the gymnast heroes of my youth. I was captivated by the 1984 Olympics as much for MaryLou’s winning smile and performance as for the reality bite that I would never be that girl winning medals with my flip-flops. Aerial cartwheels were to be the pinnacle of my gymnastics career. Sure, I could do one back walkover after another, never putting more than a single foot down in between, and I even mastered them on the balance beam at one point, but poorly executed back handsprings (I can’t tell you how many times I landed on my head) remained my trademark.

Once upon a time I thought of myself as a gymnast. Once upon a time I read every issue of USA Gymnastics from cover to cover, cutting out photos of my favorite gymnasts and making collages. I had posters of the members of the 1984 men’s gymnastics team taped to my walls until the day I graduated high school and moved away from home.

I got older and my back and knees grew creaky and I never knew whether I should have blamed my years as a gymnast or if I was simply genetically predisposed to those kinds of aches and pains. When hubby and I moved to Houston, I admit to looking up Karoli’s gym and driving through the area a time or two just hoping to catch a glance of the legendary man. In 1992, an exhibition of gymnastic champions came through town and I forced my dear hubby to take me. There were many incredible performances, including 1992 Olympic silver all-around medalist, Shannon Miller, but it was Nadia Comaneci who took my breath away and brought tears of joy to my eyes. I have photographs of Nadia and Bart from a distance. My camera lens was not near telephoto enough.

I would have told you I was long over my swooning over world-class gymnasts, but a few weeks ago, when I heard my young friend Isaac was attending Bart Conner’s Gymnastic Camp, I got giddy. “Have you met him in person?” I asked. “Have you seen Nadia?” I exclaimed. I don’t know that Isaac quite understood the significance of these acquaintances. I told him about the posters on my wall when I was a kid and I’m sure it gave him a whole new perspective, perhaps more than he wanted to know about this adult in his life.

His mother later sent me a text message (which I didn’t get for a few days because I rarely have my phone turned on) that said, “Boy do I have something for you – courtesy of Bart and Nadia!”

I received these photos a few days later via email; Isaac with Bart and his sister, Erinn, with Nadia. I thought they were awesome! I can now say I know people who have posed for photos with Bart and with Nadia. How much better can it get?

A few days later, this came in the mail…

Now I ask myself, can I wear this treasure? Do I risk getting it dirty or stained? Do  I take a chance on washing it, perhaps allowing the signatures to fade over time? I’m so torn. I feel like a kid again. I have a shirt that has been touched by Bart and Nadia, my long-ago, imaginary future children’s namesakes. Life is funny like that. The world is smaller than you think.


Melissa said...

That's a wonderful story and a fantastic surprise. So cool.

bobbi said...

I remember vividly going to a gym with you and you trying to teach me to swing on the uneven bars to no avail!WOW I always thought you were going to be a cool.

Frank said...

Love it!

Frank, who was a gymnast in a past life. Some visual evidence here. Just the photos. You can ignore the letter itself.

DuckieMom said...

Now you just need to wear shirt, get your picture taken with Isaac and Erinn, post it between their pictures of the Great Ones, and voila, I think that moves you 1/2 a degree closer!! 8^)

LoryKC said...

I am going to have to show this post to my daughter. I have never had any physical coordination, whatsoever (though I thought I'd be the next Billie Jean King--tennis was my thing in those days) but my daughter sounds much like you!
For the "Education Fair" this past year, they could do a science project or a history project--a biography and/or documentary kind of thing.
She did hers on Nadia!
LOVE the shirt and the pics!

unschoolingsupermom said...

I must say, I am just a little envious. I used to pretend to be Nadia on my swingset. I never stepped into a gym as a young girl, we didnt have extra money for such frivilous things. That shirt is awesome. You should frame it for safe keeping.

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! That is AWESOME!