Name: RuthAnn
Location: Huntington, WV
Country: United States
Member Since: February 12, 2009
Number of Posts: 92
Age/Gender: 41 / F
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Status: Single
Sexual Preference: Boys
Open To: Friends
About Me: 1. i only drink whiskeys with an E in them.
2. my favorite word in the entire world is "bellybutton."
3. if i ever get married, i want the song "we are the champions" played at my wedding. preferably right after the justice says "introducing for the first time ever...".
4. i used to play DnD but don't get to anymore and i miss it.
5. if i could grow facial hair, i'd totally rock a soul patch because i love them.
inks: by my own personal standard, i'm severely lacking in the tattoo department, mostly on account of being broke. i have a tramp stamp that i love. i have a feeling more tattoos are on the horizon.
five songs at my FUNeral: 1. love (reign o're me) - the who
2. no woman, no cry - bob marley
3. last caress - the misfits
4. knowledge - operation ivy
5. sweet leaf - black sabbath
top five favorite movies: 1. fight club
2. the big lebowski
3. fear and loathing in las vegas
4. american psycho
5. vampire hunter d: bloodlust
top five favorite authors: 1. chuck palahniuk (although i'm on to you. you may be slipping, sir.)
2. kurt vonnegut
3. hunter s. thompson
4. edgar allan poe
5. alan moore (you bastard. i still haven't forgiven you for you-know-what.)
top five things make me happy: 1. clean sheets
2. dirtying clean sheets
3. marijuana
4. jack daniels
5. whenever cooter brings home more nutty bars
a quote i like: i`ll never harden my heart, but i`ve toughened the muscles around it. - dolly parton
18 Friends
 Page: 1 2 3 
Posted: 08/31/09 at 04:19 AM  RSS
don't ever let go.
two things before you read this story:

1.  this is a story about a significantly influential event in my life.

2.  i listened to “paint it black” by the rolling stones the entire time i wrote this. considering the tempo, sentiment and overall demeanor of the song, i thought it worth mentioning in case it changes the influences of the story.

as a small child i was afflicted with terrible balance. perhaps i shouldn’t use the past tense in this instance. i currently am still afflicted with terrible balance. but not as terribly as when i was growing. becomingly alarmingly concerned about my ability to stay upright while doing something as simple as standing still, my parents decided to encourage me into taking gymnastics lessons.

for all you old kids who had the pleasure of growing up in huntington, my gymnastics school was located in what is now the second floor of magic makers.  after climbing this ridiculously creepy stairway, i’d walk into what was essentially a huge warehouse filled with tumbling equipment, trampolines, balance beams, gymnastic bars and a foam pit with rings over it. reflecting on it, it was pretty badass. i took gymnastic with three other girls from my first grade class and i can say without any pride that i singlehandedly made it cool to have birthday parties there because it was something fun boys and girls could do, plus who could turn down trampolines the size of my bedroom?

once a week i’d don my pink and grey leotard and head up to take my lumps running around, learning stuff and essentially trying not to get seriously injured. and for a fat little epically uncoordinated seven year old, it was a full time job for myself and instructors alike.

i don’t remember much about the actual lessons aside from major milestones. at one point in my miserable gymnastics career, i used to be able to pull off a back hand spring, which if i may brag momentarily, is pretty fucking impressive for me. i could also do cartwheels on a balance beam which is something i would only attempt now there was significant money involved. and i’m talking six figures because my medical bills alone would probably total into the millions, what with the new spine i’ll need and all. but nothing really stuck out more than what came after the lessons were over.

after we each took our turns in our groups tumbling over padding and falling from a three foot balance beam, the instructors would sit us down on one of the bigger mats and talk about everything we went over and tell us we did a good job. and each week, they would pick a girl to ring the bell located on the wall by the parents waiting area to signal the end of class. this was a position of honor and i speak without malice when i say the girls in my class were very calculative when it came to keeping track of how many times each of us had received the honor, no privilege of ringing the bell. and it wasn’t the fascination with the bell. the bell was just the tangible representation of the approval. these high school and early college girls were singling us out and approving of us. it was almost as if we were peers. and that feeling was sweeter than any earthly satisfaction as far as my seven year old perspective knew.

the timeframe for which i was in gymnastics is unclear to me as i can’t really remember, but i do remember i went through several season changes because i distinctly remember being sweaty inside and walking out into the cold, winter air. as we progressed, so did the things we learned. what started out as summersaults and jumping on the trampoline had turned into tumbling and balance beams. and as the difficulty level increased, it became harder for me to compete among my peers. i tried harder and harder to excel but being upright challenged, i had to search for new ways to gain favor in the eyes of my teachers.

this particular evening my group of girls had rotated to the uneven bars. up until this point i had trusted the sanity of my instructors. i had benefited from the education i had received under their tutelage. my parents even commented on the improvements they noticed in my everyday functioning. isn’t it wonderful how i wasn’t falling up the stairs anymore or how i wasn’t tripping over nothing. but now this? the balance beams?

and here my troubles began.

whenever introducing something new, the teachers would have us sit down and they would explain the equipment or demonstrate using it. i vaguely remember one instructor hopping up on the top bar, gaining momentum and then moving herself around those bars like a piece of silk caught in an updraft. i knew i would never be able to do this.

after the demonstration it was our turn to learn. one of the instructors asked for a volunteer to try it. all the girls were hesitant. these bars were twice as tall as we were. and being the overly worrisome child i was, they looked horribly rickety. just those tiny wires holding it up? it all seemed very faith based to me. but despite all of these insecurities, i saw an opportunity. my hand shot up.

before being dangled from the highest bar, the instructor looked at me, looked me directly in the eye and told me what i have determined to be the key to the universe. gravely she stated flatly “whatever you do, don’t let go.” petrified now, borderline peeing in my spandex, i nodded my understanding.

she turned to the class and explained the maneuver we were going to be learning was called “skin the cat.” for reference, it’s where you stick your feet through your arms and flip yourself over. it looks like this in action:


skin the cat

now i am legitimately terrified. not only does the move sound ridiculously complicated, it also has a horrifying name. what the fuck am i going to do now. i do what a professional would have done. calmly and with an even gate, i strode over to the white bubble and dipped my hand into the opening and gathered a handful of chalk dust. slapping my hands together to cover them, i parted the chalk dust cloud as i walked confidently to stand under the uneven bars with my hands lifted straight up over my head. the instructors picked me up at the waist and dangled me from the highest uneven bar.

standing underneath me and facing me, she grabbed my ankles and said she was going to put them through my arms. i could handle that. as she began to bend my body i was getting very clear messages from my brain. things like “situation: critical!” and “terror level at maximum.” and once my knees got around ear level, despite the sagely advice of “don’t let go,” eventually my brain overruled my rationale and sent the message to my fingers of “mission: abort!”

and so in my fear and distrust of the unknown, i let go my grip of the top bar and of my mortality and i opened my arms and fell. with the wind against my face as gravity brought me to the earth, i had the misfortune of finding out too late none of the instructors were quick enough to catch me. and i tumbled down, turning over and landing face down on the mat beneath the bars, spread eagle and deathly still.

as the clouds of chalk dust hung in the air, the entire building was hushed. the instructors looking down on the sure to be corpse of a little fat girl who even though had broken the cardinal rule of the uneven bars was full of spunk and determination and would not let fear hinder her from learning and had not feared to tread where no others her age would dare.  she had chanced it and lost, learning the valuable lesson that will be echoed through the ages by the more tender-hearted of the instructors.  after explaining to her future classes the most important piece of information regarding the uneven bars, she would turn her head and sweetly whisper to no one “don’t ever let go, ruth ann. don’t ever. let. go.”

i got to ring the bell that night and it was most triumphant.

 


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