Well it’s finally here. The long awaited Olympic Games have officially opened for business in London. For the past four weeks since the trials, I’ve been able to maintain with amazing effectiveness my positive attitude using three simple tricks: ignore, ignore, and ignore.
So how am I doing now?
I’m not going to lie to you. Not so good.
Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to life, I have a great one, and making the Olympics wouldn’t have changed my life. People on the outside often think it does, but it doesn’t. I’ve seen enough of my friends make teams to know that most people who go to the Olympics perform average or poorly, and leave unsatisfied with a bunch of great photos and new Ralph Lauren outfits that, like Hawaiian shell necklaces, don’t seem to look as good outside of their native habitat.
The problem isn’t my mind; it’s my damn heart. Unlike past years, I feel in my heart that I belong there. That mass of smooth muscle that normally pumps oxygen and life and ambition through me is now swollen, pressing against my bony runners’ sternum, pulsing, making it hard to breathe. And though I haven’t cried (yet), my very blood feels pregnant with salty tears.
How’s that for depressing?
Jesus, Fleshman. Pull yourself together!
At least that’s what I tell myself every couple hours when my Olympic ignore tactics are again foiled by coverage of the Opening Ceremonies. Not that I’m watching it. I’m not ready for that. But the guy next to me on the plane has his newspaper open to an article about it. The TV monitors at my airline gate flash images to go with the closed captions that I can’t help but involuntarily read. My twitter feed is full of Polo dress-up photos and stupidly awesome views from Olympic Village balconies. It’s enough to vomit on myself in public, and yet I abstain. I only brought three dresses to Honolulu with me and I don’t want to waste my valuable beach time in a laundromat.
The part that bothers me is that it bothers me. I want to be able to separate the Olympic Games from my own (failed) ambition. I don’t want to be some crotchety bitter casualty of the Olympic Dream, making fun of everyone’s Opening Ceremony outfits. I want to be a fan of the sport.
But is that realistic?
One would hope, and yet every time I try to come up with a strategy, I revert to my old high school teen angst self to cope. Then, I revise the strategy to match a fully functioning adult with a big life in front of her.
What do you do when someone you are competitive with wins a medal and achieves your dream?
Teen me: Naturally you make up a fantasy in your mind about that person’s life falling apart after the Games are over, checking into rehab for an addiction to diet pills after gaining 150 pounds from a twinkie addiction that resulted from too many years of dietary self-sacrifice.
Adult me: No dammit! You are happy for them!
You get the picture. The scenarios are endless.
I can’t possibly prepare for everything I might feel, and I can’t go back in time to my friend-filled collage-covered high school room with my teenage friends and cover up all my hurt with cattiness and jokes. My choices are simply to avoid the Olympic Games altogether, or to suck it up and deal with it. Like an adult. Like a person with plenty of dreams to chase and goals to achieve who happens to have a scarred and swollen heart.
Any jokes posted below to cope will be read, and laughed at, although naturally I’ll deny having a relationship with you in public if asked.
In seriousness though, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your words of support the past few months on ALF, twitter, and facebook. I’ll write more on this later, but I never would have made it to the starting line at the trials, much less the finish line without you. If I haven’t personally replied, please know that I appreciate your words more than you know.