Saturday, June 12, 2010

She Believes She Can Fly

She closes the door to the truck and closes her eyes. She breathes in a deep breathe of the cool and quiet morning air. heavy with the humidity of summer and the weight of anticipation on her heart. She exhales deeply coming out in a sigh which she wasn't expecting. Where has time gone she wonders. She thinks back to those very early days with her daughter on her lap in the baby gym.

"Mom, come on I don't want to miss my flight" says her daughter as she bounds down the stairs, and hops into the car. Tall and gracefully moving in the strong confident movements of the young women she has become. It chokes the women up a bit. This women, this girl, her baby spreading her wings and leaving the nest.

They ride to the airport in silence. Neither of them wanting to talk about what's happening to her, to them. They sit absorbed in their own thoughts and memories. Her daughter clicking away on her phone. Saying her good byes and checking in with all her friends. She's the first to leave, just a few short weeks after graduation and she's heading out. Leaving what she knows and the friends she has grown up with to go meet those that are her future. She will be meeting some of her new teammates at the USA Gymnastics Training Facility. A dream she has had since she was a little girl.

The mother looks over at her daughter's profile, so strong and at the same time soft. The memories tumble over her like the morning fog and she can't suppress them anymore.

Her daughter always believed she could fly. Always on the move climbing, running,jumping off of anything if given the chance. The child you couldn't turn your back on at the park or you would find her on the top of something she shouldn't be, jumping off the side of something or going down the slide head first. In an effort to harness that energy and teach her how to fly safely the mother signed her up for classes at the local gymnastics academy. It seems like ages ago that we walked into that baby gym the mother thinks with a small sigh. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Too small for any leotard to fit, but so excited to be there. Running, jumping, somersaulting, she tried it all the first time with no complaints, no fear.

It was obvious from the first day in the gym though that she had her eyes and her heart set on other things. The bar. Oh how she loved to hang and swing from that bar. A small giggle escapes from the mother's lips as she remembers how her daughter would ask to do the same tricks over and over again. Spending all her free play time swinging on the bar. She had a strength and determination, even at such a young age, that far surpassed her peers. Even her teachers saw it and she quickly was moved into the big gym.

Oh the years we have spent in that gym. The mother takes a deep breathe and she can almost smell the chalk that was an ever present companion in those hours in the gym. She remembers the first time her daughter walked into, barely three, and saw the "big girls" flying around the bars. Doing their giant flips and turns, flying from one bar to the next sometimes flipping between. Her little eyes became as wide as saucers as she pointed and excitedly proclaimed

"look mama! look! them flying! them flying!"

"yes honey, they are and if you practice hard and take care of your body you could get big and strong and fly like that someday too"

"I gonna do dat mama! I gonna fly"

And the little three year old of her memory nodded her head in affirmation and made it known, she was going to fly.

And here we are. 15 years and countless hours in the gym and that girl, well she has learned to fly. She is the best in the state, has taken top honors around the country, and shortly, all to shortly she will board a plane and fly off to train, hone the skills she has and learn new ones.

Years of early morning practices in the gym dark and cold. The chalk making small clouds that would circle around her hands, drifting slowly down to her feet in wisps of fading white. 15 years and her mother still closes her eyes on all the releases, unable to watch for fear of what could happen. The daughter laughs about this still, the strength and confidence of that girl knows no limits.

The mother steals a glance at her again as they approach the airport. So strong and confident, where did this girl come from? How could I, someone so self conscious and fearful have created this amazing creature. More importantly, how will I let her go?

The mother steers the car up to the drop off, places it in park and sighs. Her heart is starting to ache and she can feel the lump in the back of her throat starting to choke her, the water well up and causing pressure behind her eyes. She does not know if she can keep it together.

"Well, here we are" she tries to sound cheerful, this is such an exciting step for her daughter she doesn't want to bring her down. Her daughter looks over to her, finally locking eyes for the first time and she can in her eyes the same held back tears. She takes a second to gather her thoughts, and control her emotions. She reaches across the gear shift and gathers her daughters hand in hers.

"I know you're scared honey. It's scary starting something new, but you have been training your whole life for this moment. You just need to relax, and be yourself and everyone will love you as much as I do."

"I know mom, I'm not worried about that, I'm worried about you. Are you sure your okay with me leaving so soon after graduation? At all? Are YOU going to be okay"

"Oh honey" she says tapping her hand "the hatchlings have to leave the nest eventually. You have been spreading your wings for years, warming them up and stretching them. I just have to know that I have taught you enough so that when you step out of the nest you can fly, and soar, instead of falling to the ground." She looks up at her daughter, her eyes shinny with tears and a big smile on her face.

"You did mama, you did. I promise I will soar for you"

They hug goodbye and she watches her daughter walk off. No longer a child, but the confident young women she has become and her heart is lighter. Yes, she will soar to new and great heights and I will sit back and watch from the ground in wonder and amazement at this creature, this daughter of mine. As she watches the planes taking off she hears that little three year old's voice in her head "I gonna do dat mama! I gonna fly".

Yes, sweet child you are.

This post is part of Creativity Boot Camp (I am using short story, fiction, as my medium.). Prompt: Fly. No photos today, maybe I will get some tomorrow if the weather cooperates!


Hen Jen said...

wonderful, loved it! was this you, or a creative writing project?

Corinne Cunningham said...

:) such happy, bittersweet moments! I wanted to be a gymnast... and then I got boobs...

Mary Lesh said...

Wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed this. Although I did not have a gymnast, I have watched my children leave the nest and now many years later I can breathe a sigh of relief that I did a good job. The girls found the most amazing husbands and well, my son is still working on the amazing wife. Great job!

Louise said...

I can identify with this lovely story - both from my point of view as I did gymnastics as a youngster - but also from a mother's point of view when the Russin coaches wanted my daughter to train every night because she was good and looked the part. My daughter decided not to continue (age about 12) due the constant pushiness of the coaches -and the fact it bought on panic attacks - never a good thing!
I'm glad she had the strength to say "no" when it got too much!

Thanks for the story - it bought back some memories of growing up (for both of us)!