Friday, September 30, 2011

Sport and Sweet

Here I am, very vigorously competing on the high school tennis team.
I am, in fact, so unfazed, I might as well be spending
a pleasant afternoon shopping at Contempo Casuals.
Growing up, I was supremely unathletic.  It was the bane of my existence, particularly during elementary school P.E., when I was always picked last, even after Elizabeth Koppel, and she had a prosthetic hand.  (Lucky!  Why did she get to get out of playing volleyball?!)  I was awkward and skinny-fat (a euphemism for out-of-shape), competition scared me, and I had better things to do, like chewing my hangnails and poring over old copies of "Betty and Veronica."  This all changed in college, when I finally grew into my body, and now I'm downright obsessed with exercising -- but before I get into that, here are a few of my most awesome encounters with sports:

Starting around age 10, my parents decided I would be a great candidate for soccer, as this sport seemed the least physically threatening, if not out-and-out European (a.k.a. "feminine").  I remember two particular events from this short-lived pigskin pastime: 1) my parents maniacally yelling at me, "Run the OTHER way, Sarah!  The OTHER way!!!" (clearly, I was a total fucking genius) and 2) biding my time in goalie position (the team put me here as there was the "least" to do) and happily discovering I could tuck my eyelashes into my eyelids (finally!), then suddenly hearing my mom cry out, "The ball, Sarah!  Look up!  NOW!!!"  Two seconds later I felt a "whack!" on the side of my head similar to the the feeling of being beaten with my brother's light saber (not an uncommon occurrence).  I was down for the count, but I had blocked my first goal!  Yessss!!!  The sweet smell of victory.

Then, in junior high, I decided to try out for cheerleading.  Ooooh...painful.  During my tryouts I performed a little number my dad had given to me from the 1950's called, "Go Back!"  It went something like this:

"Go back, go back, go back into the woods!
You haven't, you haven't, you haven't got the goods!
You haven't got the power, and you haven't got the jazz --
and you haven't got the team that Matilija has!!!"

Smartly, I had subsituted my junior high's name (Matilija), AND made up my own accompanying graceful and astonishing moves, which consisted of a lot of fast-paced twirling, powerful muscle flexing, and delightful finger snapping.  As my mother watched me perform, she actually became so embarassed for me that she ran and hid in the bushes behind the snack truck (nothing like a proud parent to boost one's confidence!).  But guess what?!  I made the team!  And for four months afterward, during the junior high football games, I continued twirling, muscle flexing (no finger-snapping, though -- they made me stop that), and still have no idea what the difference between "offense" and "defense" was.  Gooooo Matilija!!!

As the years progressed, I learned to cite "feminine issues" on days we were to play football and/or dodgeball (I am still terrified of the latter, and have no idea why or how this is even a sport).  Eventually I made my way to the swim team in high school, and that was the first sport that I was -- dare I say it? -- good at.  I continued to swim a bit in college, but then I discovered that hangovers didn't go well with 7:00 AM practices, so I called it quits.  As you can see, my perserverance at athleticism was unsurpassed.

These days I work out at a gym in Houston called, "The Houstonian" (super original name).  I run, do yoga, take kickboxing classes (which is really therapeutic when you are in a fight with someone -- sometimes it is just so healing to imagine bashing someone's face in), and basically spend such ridiculous amounts of time there, that it could either be considered my second home, or maybe my church (although instead of getting anointed with oils, I find myself frequently getting anointed with other people's sweat -- wow, yum).  I would love to be able to exercise outside, but Houston's weather doesn't really accomodate that, and, besides, the people watching at The Houstonian is just so fun.

There's the exercise addicts, who complain that the cardio classes are not "fast" enough, there's the weekenders, who complain that the cardio classes are too fast, there's the yoga junkies, who have that unique patchouli smell thing going, there's the spin people, who are just plain psycho, and then there's the harried parents, who primarily use the gym for its child-care facilities.  I fall somewhere in between, with the exception of the patchouli.  And f.y.i. all you new agers, it kind of smells, um, bad.

While competitive sports and ordinary exercising may not exactly be the same thing, I do feel like I have come full circle to a certain extent.  Whereas once I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin, or with my own shape, now I feel proud of it, even of my itty-bitty breasts, which were the part of me I was most self-conscious about.  We are all incredibly unique, and I figured that I would either self-change or own what God had given me, and that includes my insides too.

And with that, I have only a few words left to say: just do it, dig deep, and nameste -- but mostly, of course, game on!

1 comment:

  1. The best "exercise" I ever did was nurse my son, which caused me to lose so much weight I could fit into some very old clothes. It was awesome. Two years later, and I'm glad (?) I never got around to giving away the pile of clothes that I had shrunk out of. Oh boy. I have a lot of work to do!
    I like what you have to say about owning what has been given to you!