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
, 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. Houston
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.