Unsettled and Off Balance
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
As you may have guessed by now, I adore gymnastics. There is something so wonderful about a sport where the goal isn't just get the ball to the neutral third location, but every single move is judged and analyzed. It is one of very few things that can take up all the space in my brain without allowing anything else in.
One of the events in gymnastics is the balance beam. On beam, the gymnast must display at least 8 elements, 7 on the beam and 1 dismount, that show her balance, her grace, and her ability to throw complicated skills. These skills must include a turn, a forward and backward acrobatic element, two acrobatic skills linked together, two artistic skills linked together, and a leap of some sort.
The best thing about watching beam is the terror-a fraction of an inch off balance and the gymnast will be on the ground, incurring a one point deduction. I love going back and watching old beam routines from some of my favorite gymnasts-as they got used to performing at such a high level they all fell a lot. And beam falls are often hilarious.
I can't GIF these so you'll have to click but these are some of my favorites:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMupEUEfIdY Watch until the end
They're great right? Just people working so hard their entire lives for a singular goal only to bested by a 4 inch plank of wood covered in leather.
One of the things you'll hear commentators (or me pretending to be a commentator) say is that the gymnasts need to settle into their skills or they will fall off the beam. If they have their mind on the next skill they won't be gripping hard enough with their toes and focusing on keeping their hips square and will find themselves wobbling to the floor. Boom. You had to count a fall on the beam and now you're way behind.
I'd like to settle into my skills too.
Recently, there was a major election and the question of where one was voting became a big deal. Suddenly people from Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and a few other states wielded a far greater power in their votes than those from New York or New Jersey or South Dakota.
I've lived in New York for almost eight years and in a lot of ways I consider myself a New Yorker. But, my license still shows the swing state where I was born, and I cast an absentee ballot there.
Mostly this is because in that state it costs $25 to renew one's license and in New York it costs $75 and I am just that cheap. But in another way I am holding out, waiting to settle, even though I've thrown the skill and am wobbling. My logic, when I renewed my license at 21, was that I would be married any day and would just have to adjust it to whatever state (Florida, Arizona, Nevada or bust!) that my husband's illustrious career required us to live. Instead I've been a New Yorker with a silly looking license who has had to cast absentee votes and doesn't have a say in the government of the city where I have actually lived for 5 years. It might be time to adjust my hips to stay on this beam.
Settling in feels like giving up. I got my first passport for a family trip to Israel when I was 16. This year it expired, and with it, I felt the pain of that 16 year old who held her first passport and literally said in the government office: "Next one will have my real last name." This was the same day I was accepted as a beta user of Pottermore. Things were going great. Why should that ever change?
Holding on to this 16 year old's fantasy (first kid by 22 latest!) is the reason for many things in my life. It's why I waited until I was 24 to really start to travel the world, as I was convinced I'd see it all with a man by my side. It's why I own a used set of dishes with no large forks for fleishigs because G-D forbid I buy a real set of kitchenware when everyone I know will be clamoring to get whatever I want from Bed Bath and Beyond for me as soon as I acquire expensive jewelry. Speaking of expensive jewelry, it's why I don't any. It's why I was ok with taking mediocre jobs and living in a mice infested apartment for a couple of years-it's all temporary.
In the grand scheme of things I was right. Life is temporary and only Torah is eternal and you are a mitzvah girl and 10 points to Hufflepuff. In the smaller scheme, I'm handicapping my strategy before the game has even started. I'm a gymnast trying to settle into skills with my feet tied together. I'm looking to build a home and I don't have a home, a city, a government, forks, or anything else that really feels like it's mine.
Over the last year or so I've made adjustments. I moved into a better apartment and I just love giving my landlord so much money I could cry every month. I got a job I love. I bought a nice lamp and a book shelf and a pair of real earrings. I renewed my passport for another decade. I reinvested my savings into a retirement portfolio instead of a wedding account.
Some of these things make me feel like it is never going to happen for me. That perhaps I shouldn't wait to get engaged to build a registry but should build one now under the heading "I haven't found a man but I also need to eat food." Even if I don't find anyone, I still deserve normal forks, don't I? I want to feel settled in my skills, but I don't want to give up on my wobbling-if I wobble enough maybe someone will finally notice!
About a year ago, actress Emma Watson, who specializes in playing Hermione in every movie in which she has appeared, declared herself to be self partnered. She isn't asexual, she enjoys romantic relationships and sex but she hasn't found someone with whom she wants to build a life so she has chosen to embark on life without anyone at her side. She goes to restaurants and to movies and on vacations alone and enjoys her own company.
Emma, you will never find a man worth your devotion because YOU ARE PERFECT.
I subscribed to a popular newsletter and Facebook group for the self-partnered and learned that it was ok to prefer my own company over any others and to take myself on what are considered date activities. I live in a great city for this and carved out a way to be that brought me joy and didn't make me feel lacking.
Then COVID hit. Everything I had enjoyed was taken away and it became hard not to be jealous of those who had someone in their lives with whom they could binge watch every tv show ever.
I want someone with whom I can binge watch shows. I also want a full set of forks before I'm 80. If I choose to get my forks am I giving up on my guy?
I don't have an answer for this. If I did I'd be rich and the blog would have ads on it that would both bother you and creep you out. All I know is, there are eight skills minimum in a gymnasts's routine and most do 10-13 in order to increase their start values. I've just done an Onodi (a back handspring with a half turn) and now, unlike Eythora Thorisdottir at the 2015 World Championships I need to settle. This routine has 12 skills and I need to get through each completely to move to the next. I'll focus on staying on the beam for this Onodi and not ending up on the floor. The routine isn't over yet and its all I can do.
My license expires in 5 years. The next major election is in 3. By then, I may choose to vote in the state where I actually live. I also may keep my swing state status because power tastes so damn good.