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June Galoph’s Dilemma in China

Some people collect coins, some people collect stamps, but I’m not like the others. I collect handstands. I learned a handstand when I was 5, and ever since then my mom takes a picture of me doing a handstand in every single country I visit. I choose my favorite tourist attraction and then we take a picture of me doing a handstand there. So far, I’ve been to 11 countries, France (Paris), Spain (Barcelona), Russia (Moscow), Denmark (Copenhagen), Canada (Quebec and Ontario), Brazil (Rio de Janiero and the Amazon), Egypt (Cairo), Sweden (Stockholm), and Mexico (Mexico City). And right now, I’m on the plane to China!  My birthplace, my homeland! I should be so excited, but unfortunately, I’m the complete opposite. You know why? Well, you probably don’t know, but it’s because of this blue fiberglass thing on my right arm, called a cast. This stupid thing prevents me from doing a handstand in my birthplace! It’s my birthright to do a handstand in China! I have to, it’s my destiny, but now I can’t. I have been dreaming of doing a handstand on the Great Wall of China, and now my dream is crushed. I’m so mad and upset I want to punch a wall a million times till it’s dented and feels my wrath! Let me tell you how I got this stupid cast…

I was on the floor, doing my routine, I ran with speed and swiftness into my back tumbling pass. I hurdled, then placed my hands down for the round off. Finishing the round off, I snapped my feet underneath me, and threw my body backwards, arched, and that was my back handspring. I made it long and I didn’t go high. It was perfect. Except for the fact that my middle finger on my right hand bent underneath my hand. But, I couldn’t stop myself from going into the back tuck. If I did, I would have gotten really hurt. And not just my finger. I landed on my butt. After I finished the pass, I noticed my middle finger was really big and swollen. It was all black and blue and purple. My mother picked me up early from practice and took me to the orthopedist. I had fractured my finger.

Well, that’s pretty much my story. And now, it’s sleep time. See you in China. June’s out for now. 13 hours later… well we’re in China! Boo! Being in China just reminds me of my fractured finger, which reminds of not being able to accomplish my dream! So I feel all gloomy and depressed inside. Someone needs to help me, and my mom and dad keep saying, “June, we’re sorry, there’s nothing we can do about it,” or “I’m really sorry sweetie but what’s happened has happened, and if I could change the past I would but I can’t.” But on the other hand, they haven’t even tried! That’s ironic for you to tell me these things without trying to do something about it first!

Figure 1 Photo of someone else doing a handstand in China!

“Honey, we’re going to the hotel now,” mom told me in her regular, high pitched, sweet voice. “Ok,” I replied emotionless. It was about a 20 minute bus ride to the hotel. Our hotel and room was really absolutely stunning, but I just couldn’t find it in me to be happy and excited. The fact that I wouldn’t be able to do a handstand on the Great Wall of China hung above my head like the Sword of Damocles. Mom and dad were oohing and awing, and I just stood there unable to move frozen like a block of ice. They sprawled themselves onto their bed, I still stared. “C’mon June. Don’t be like this,” dad said. Finally, I sat down on the bed. The next day we visited the Chengdu Panda Sanctuary. Pandas were my absolute favorite animals in the whole wide world, but just like the day before, I couldn’t be happy. I think you know why.  The pandas were cute though. And I did get a picture.

The following days were the same. Even when I ate at the Peking duck restaurant, the food tasted bland, even though I knew it was good. At the cooking class my parents and I took, I was so distracted and careless that I almost cut my finger off. I wanted to go home because then being unable to do a handstand on the Great Wall of China wouldn’t haunt me there, right? My gloominess was contagious to the family. My parents interpreted my despair as me not enjoying China. That made them upset. They wanted me to enjoy my beautiful birthplace, but instead I was all melancholy. I wanted to explain to them that I was just sad because of the handstand, but whenever I tried the words just wouldn’t come out. It was as if I had to hold in my feelings, and I couldn’t share my thoughts with my parents. I wanted to, yet something was holding me back.

The next day, I tried my hardest to look like I was having the best time of my life. I plastered a smile on my face everywhere I went. The only thing was it felt so wrong. I couldn’t express one feeling on the outside, yet have a different feeling on the inside. But I couldn’t disappoint my parents. It made me so mad to know that they had planned so much for this trip, and then they were upset to see me upset. I couldn’t let my feelings affect theirs. I wanted them to be joyful even if I couldn’t. Seeing me being “cheerful” that day gave my parents hope that for the rest of the trip I would be the same. If the only way for them to be joyful was for me to pretend then that’s what I had to do.

We were in Beijing the next day. We went into the Forbidden City. Once again, I had a smile plastered on my face. I looked at the beautiful palace in the Forbidden City, and for a split mili-mili-mili-mili-mili second I was calm and relaxed. My fake smile felt real. Looking at this awesome architecture just gave me a warm feeling. Then it drained away. There was a spark, and then the spark was gone. If only I could feel like that for the whole trip! The next day, we went to the Temple of Heaven. It included my two favorite colors--blue and gold. Also, the way it caught the sun made it look 10 times better. I had that feeling again. This time, it was slightly longer. The longer I admired the Temple of Heaven, the longer the spark lasted. Eventually though, it died out.

On the final day of our trip, we went to the Great Wall of China. I woke up and breathed in the air. Then I realized today was doomsday. Today was the apocalypse. I’ve had a good life. I’ll miss you, mom, dad, my best friend Kaylee, my whole family (except my cousin Freddie), and my gymnastics team, all of you. On the car ride, my stomach was bubbling.  It felt as if someone was churning butter in my stomach. At last, we were there. Getting out of the car was hard. But I did it. Barely. In about 5 minutes I was on the Great Wall of China. “Well, you can’t do a handstand, but you can enjoy the view,” mom told me. “Fine,” I sighed.

I went to one side of the wall and looked over. The wind blew in my hair. I saw the beautiful view, the extraordinary overlook of the Great Wall stretching for miles. I had that MOMENT again. It’s only here to go away, I thought. I was wrong though--it didn’t stop. I felt so happy I wanted to hug the world! Then I realized something: you can’t force happiness, you have to let it come naturally to you. Also, you can’t let one bad thing ruin a wonderful trip. I then began to realize all the awesome things I saw on this trip. The giant pandas, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, everything. I’m glad I was born in China so I have an amazing place to come back to.

Author:  Cailyn

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