Amanda and Elaine Dai are sisters and competitive rhythmic gymnasts who train at Rhythmic Dreams in Newton, Massachusetts. "Rhythmic Diaries" is their account of balancing the training for this rigorous sport with being normal high school students.
Friday, December 14th was the date I had looked forward to since the beginning of September. It was the day when I'd finally go to the doctor and hopefully be allowed to do everything again.
Up to that day, waiting was agony. I counted down the days one-by-one, yearning to return to training, and finally I convinced my mom to send me back after promising to only do what I was allowed to. Soon I was going to the gym on my regular training schedule as if nothing had happened. But I was well aware of my restrictions, especially when everyone was doing jumps. I took apparatus and did tosses along the side, and although I love working with apparatus, jumps are my favorite elements. It was somewhat painful to be standing so close to my teammates as they worked on their jumps and be unable to do them myself.
Despite it all, training made the days pass faster. Around November, school suddenly flooded me with homework and tests so that I could barely catch my breath. The month breezed by --one moment it was Halloween, the next Christmas lights illuminated the streets -- and before I knew it, I woke up to find Friday, December 14th staring at me.
The day passes like any other Friday: first period, second period, Chem, French... my focus wavers from class to training, from training to class, back and forth until finally fifth period ends. I try to disguise my excitement from my teacher, who casts me a suspicious glance, probably thinking I'm excited because class is over. I rush out the classroom and jump in the car. The ride to the hospital is rather efficient, but to me our car seems to be crawling along the road.
At last we arrive. After getting an x-ray, we check in and wait for what seems like forever to be called. I listen attentively as names are called: "Catherine!" "Brian!" "Samantha!" but my name isn't among them.
Just as I start to drift off, a loud yell yanks me awake: "Amanda!"
I jolt upright and prod my mom, who has actually fallen asleep, and we are led to one of the patient rooms. Unable to stay still, I hop onto the patient table and start swinging my legs impatiently. The wait for our doctor is long and borderline unbearable, but finally the door swings open and he enters. His countenance gives nothing away. I try to determine if he has good or bad news, but my efforts are futile. He asks the same questions he did three months ago: "Did your hip hurt?" "How many times?" "When?"
I answer them carefully, and then we sink into silence. I glance at my mom, but she also has a blank face. Then she asks, "Amanda, can you step out of the room? I need to talk to the doctor alone." Taken aback, I nod and leave the room. I consider eavesdropping but eventually decide against it because it would be too awkward if I were caught. Sighing, I make my way over to a waiting area and sit down. To wait. Again.
Wondering what my mom could be talking about, I realize that my hands are clenched tightly together in anticipation. Excitement courses through me; today I finally go back to training! I smile at the thought of it, and I keep smiling until one thought hits me: What if the doctor says that I have to wait another three months? For some reason, I hadn't thought of this as a possibility. But now, it hits me like a slap in the face. I might not be going back. If the doctor tells me to wait AGAIN, I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that. Yes, there are other things that I could do au lieu of rhythmic, but I had already tried them, and they didn't work. Now, sitting in a deserted waiting room and more impatient than ever, I try to find something to do when I hear, "Amanda!"
Must be mom calling, I think, since the waiting room is a considerable distance from the patient room. I spring up from my chair and hasten to the room, but I nearly double-take when I see the door firmly shut. Confused, I slowly push down the handle and ease the door open.
"What?" My mom snaps. She doesn't seem to have moved, and her irritated expression suggests that I was not invited back yet. Feeling the awkwardness heighten, I ask as innocently as possible, "Did you call me?"
"No," she answers bluntly, giving me a concerned look.
"Oh, okay..." I stammer. Realizing that I had no way to get out of this without looking somewhat insane, I decide to quickly close the door and scurry back to the waiting area. This time the wait does not last long; within a few minutes, I hear my name called again. Except this time, because I run the risk of looking insane twice, I do not respond immediately.
"Amanda! Oh, it's okay, I'll find her," I hear my mom again, and this time I decide that I am not hallucinating. I go meet her before she starts to shout my name through the entire hospital, and she greets me with a smile.
"So..." I prompt, giving her an expectant look.
"So, what?" My mom returns.
"So what did he say?!" I burst, unable to contain my anticipation any longer.
"Oh," she says, dragging out every syllable, "he says you can go back."