During this time I was working for the Host Broadcaster for the 2002 Winter Olympics which basically means I was working 10 hours a day 7 days a week. During this time I had also been sort of seeing Mike off and on. Nothing too serious. But he had President's Day off and was trying to convince me to call in sick so that we could spend it together.
If I recall correctly getting the day off involved a little white lie, because NOBODY got time off during the Olympics. And I hate to rationalize what I did by saying the ends justify the means....but it did get me one step closer to the man who would eventually be the father of my children, so I have a hard time feeling too terrible about it.
So, I got the day off and we decided to head downtown to see some of the Olympic sites. Being a holiday and having half the world in our state it was crowded, to say the least. It took forever to find parking. And the venue we decided on visiting first had a 2 hour wait just to get inside. 2 hours! But the crowds worked out to my advantage I must say. As we were maneuvering our way through the throngs of people I made my move: I reached out and grabbed his arm and said "Don't lose me!" As if that's the only reason I wanted to hold him!
We stood in line for 2 hours for the chance to push a bobsled. But I held my arm in his the whole time, so the wait didn't seem nearly as long. At the bobsled "event" visitors got a chance to compete in a heat of 12 for the fastest pushoff time. The top in the heat got Pins (which if you were around for the Olympics you know that pin collecting and trading was a big deal) you got a Gold, Silver, or Bronze pin for placing.
So, I told him I was very competitive and that if we didn't take home the gold we couldn't be friends anymore. I guess he felt there was a lot at stake because bless his heart he pushed hard and fast! So fast in fact that he couldn't stop and stepped over the stop line, thus disqualifying us. Too bad, too because we were last in the heat and the current winners time was 2.88. We came in at 2.76. Good enough for the Gold! Dang that red line. Oh well. To prove I wasn't going to hold it against him I let him hold my hand the rest of the night. Wasn't that nice of me?
The highlight of the day would have to be when we were over at Washington Square. over in the little mountain man area they had like a mock ghost town facade and bales of hay and there was some country music playing. We were the only ones there and he spontaneously started leading me in a country swing. For all my years of dance training I'm embarrassed to say I did a horrible job. I was laughing to hard. But it sort of felt like a scene in a movie and so of course I loved it!
We also hopped on Trax and went to get a look at the Olympic Torch. It was actually really cool! The flame against the dark night surrounded by all the nation's flags. It could've actually been quite romantic, but I kept making dumb jokes because I'm a dork like that.
A week or so after President's Day Mike had an assignment in his English class. I can't remember the exact assignment but he was struggling with it, not knowing what to write. So I told him I'd do the assignment, too. Give him some inspiration. This is what I wrote:
What was once well-tended grass has been reduced to mush by the slightly warmer weather which has melted the snow coupled with the recent increase in foot traffic. Each step I take across the now muddy terrain makes a slight sucking noise. My feet are cold as I stand on the not-quite-frozen ground. But my hands are warm, especially the one he’s holding, which comes complete with the “this is the first time he’s held my hand and I really like it” butterflies in my stomach. I look over at him and then up at the flickering orange flame against the dark night sky, and I wonder if there is any possible way to capture the magic of this moment in a bottle.
“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?”
His words startle me back into reality. “Huh?”
“I was just thinking about how surreal it feels to be standing here. It somehow makes the world seem like a smaller place.”
“I know exactly what you mean.” He’s absolutely right. It still boggles my minds to think that important people from all over the world are gathered right here in my own backyard. The scene before my eyes has been broadcast into the home of millions all across the world. My heart swells with pride to see Old Glory waving in slight breeze of the night, next to the flags of 78 other nations.
“Where’s Romania’s flag?” I ask, knowing that Romania holds a special place within his heart. He points to a flag with three vertical stripes. “There, the one that’s blue, yellow, and red.”
I glance over at it and then up at the dancing flame once again. I wonder what stories it would tell if it could talk. It came from half way around the world to get here, carried by thousands of different people, all heroes in their own right. And now I’m looking at it. Just watching the flame makes me want to be just a little better.
Just then a thought pops into my mind “I wonder what they’re going to do with the torch when this is all over.”
“Probably sell it on e-bay,” he laughs.
“I think they should leave it right where it is. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also represents everything good in the world. Peace, heroism, patriotism, achievement, and friendship.”
He glances over at me, smiles, and gives my hand a slight squeeze. A warm comfort floods over me and I somehow know that my life will never be the same because of this moment. As I look at him his gaze returns once again to the blaze lighting up the night sky.
My eyes wander over to another part of the stadium. Large orange letters spell out the words “light the fire within.” Standing here next to him with cold feet, looking at the fire burning for the entire world to see, I think I understand those words for the very first time.