Visceral Memory

Jessica Dickinson Goodman
Jessica Dickinson Goodman, High School Wrestling Team

I’m watching men’s college wrestling on some network I’ve never seen before. The search for background noise leads me to strange places.

I find myself unable to work–I’m yelling at the screen:

“sprawl! sprawl! keep driving through! don’t get tired! keep him down! grip, grip!”

I have a clutch of experiences I keep promising myself, holding out for the end of college. Finding a wrestling club is one. I watch the young men shoot, grip, try for cradles, give up, try something else.

I watch the bottom-man drop to his knees, align his spine, tighten his shoulders. I can feel the press of a sweaty mat under my knees, smell the anti-ring-worm foam we used to lather ourselves. I know why the Ref. has to wave his hands in wrestler’s face–because I remember how ear-pads and Adrenalin made me deaf in the ring.

I wasn’t very good on the mat. I lost nearly every match I stepped into. But just like I don’t sing Opera so I can perform for 10 minutes in front of an audience, I didn’t train for weeks to wrestle for the 10 minutes I might spend on a mat. I wrestled for the team, for a place to put my need to push back, and because coach would have killed me if I quit.

I may not have won much, but the freshmen I beat on (read: trained) when I was captain did. I am proud of that. I am proud of the muscles I feel re-growing with every day I work out. I am proud of having been the only woman on the team for three years–and even prouder that, after I graduated, two more women joined.

I miss wrestling.

Inspirational Quote:

“You can’t ever work too much because there’s no such thing as being in too good condition. You can’t ever lift too many weights because you can’t ever get too strong. You can’t ever wrestle too much because you can always do better.”–Dan Gable – Wrestler (Olympic Gold Medallist and College Wrestling Coach)


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