The pinnacle of our trip to Atlanta was when Maya came to me just after she was beaten in her sparring match. I walked up the steps of stadium, she walked down. She wasn't looking at me, but to the side. Her head was cocked and her face flushed. Once I got my arms around her she cried so hard and said, "Mami, I couldn't breath. I couldn't breath."
Of course we knew that. We could see it clearly from where we sat. By the time her sparring match came, yesterday around 5 o'clock in the early evening, she was exhausted. The traveling, the time change, her little body still trying to fight the tail end of the flu all caught up to her. She couldn't even get her kicks up high enough to hit her opponent's pads squarely. The match was even stopped once until her coughing fit subsided. All of our hearts busted for her.
Her forms earlier in the day had been better, though not a spectacular showing. There were 25 participants in her category, the largest group of the entire Junior Olympics. We asked why there were so many in this group and why did it fall off so significantly after that age. We were told that this is the age when girls are most into the sport and once they hit puberty, once they get a little boy crazy, the majority quit the sport. Many of the girls in Maya's group were very good. They had different styles, different strengths. It's always hard to tell what particular judges are looking for. Out of 25, Maya placed 11th. Not terrible for how she felt. But the sparring was heartbreaking. After she cried and after we rallied around her, I asked, "How do you feel about Taekwondo?" She said, "I'm mad at it right now." We walked and then she said, "Actually, I'm just mad at what happened." I said, "Don't give up on the sport, Maya. You're really good, and I'm really proud of you."
And that was it. We didn't talk about it much more. We're all just going to rest for a while now.
I really enjoyed Altanta. Nicest people ever. I couldn't get over how manners are pushed so much more in other parts of the country. And let me tell you, manners work. Once I got over my suspicion of their niceness, I was really digging the politeness of conversation, the civility, the yes ma'am and the no sir. During the tournament, a woman was mopping the floor of the bathroom and Mina came skipping in and promptly slipped to her kness on the wet floor. The lady with the mop clenched her fist by her head and looked to the sky. She said, "Lord have mercy! Are you alright, baby? Please be careful! Oh Lord, I'm sorry, baby." And I wanted to hug her for the decency and concern. Where I'm from, the lady would've pretended she didn't see a thing. Most everyone I encountered was this genuienly nice, and it made me giddy, gushy even.
The other highlight was hanging out with the fantastic Andrea and wonderful Ward. They are exactly as they seem on their blogs; warm and beautiful and smart. Andrea and I hung like we were cousins that loved each other, like we've clicheingly known each other forever. Our kids hit it off immediately and our husbands dug each other too. It's like we slipped into old friendships in a foreign place. On Saturday, we topped the night off with a great dinner also attended by Maya's BD and his wife and their gorgeous baby. It was a perfect dinner party where we laughed by candlelight and toasted the city and Maya and new friends. Andrea also brought Ava to support Maya on Sunday the day of the tournament, and that actually touched me a lot. Firstly because the tournaments can be mind-numbingly long and secondly because I wanted as much support for Maya as possible. Though I still feel so badly that she felt so crummy.
I'm tired. We landed in LA a couple hours ago, but I wanted to update. I'm at the library again and the DSL situation at my house seems very distant on the horizon. I'll holla.