With the 2018 Winter Olympic Games just beginning, the Opening Ceremony isn’t until tomorrow but there were already some events that started today, I felt it necessary to share my love of the Olympics with all of you. For those that know me, even just a bit, you know that I have a love for the Olympics that’s pretty intense. You may be wondering how did this 28-year-old come to love them so much?
Here’s where the story begins…
It’s the Summer of 1996, I had just turned 7 years old. My parents told us to pack our bags, or maybe they packed for us, because we were going on vacation. They claimed they didn’t know our destination, we were just going to get in the car and drive and see where we ended up. I find this hard to believe as an adult, but that’s what they told us. So the next day we hopped in the Suburban and started driving. We drove until dark and we stopped at a hotel, I believe in Kentucky. My mom and sisters got out to “see if they had a room for us” and I decided to stay in the car and park it with my dad. We pulled up next to a red Jeep Grand Cherokee. I made a comment how my Uncle had the same type vehicle and it had Illinois plates. Of course my dad explained that there are lots of vehicles that are the same and it was just a coincidence. As we walked towards the entrance there was a man and young girl standing in the window at the end of an upper floor of the hotel. I tried to tell my dad I thought it was them but he told me they were people who looked similar or something to that effect. The two figures as we came to find out were that of my uncle and cousin.WHAT A COINCIDENCE! After discovering that we were at the same hotel, it was decided that my older sister would stay in their room.
The next morning we all went to breakfast and hopped back in the car. My mom hands us a movie, Babe Pig in the City, and asks if we want to know where we are going. I’m sure we pierced their ears with our little girl screeches, but they told us we were heading to Atlanta to stay with Nana and Papa and go to the Olympics! I can close my eyes 22 years later and put myself back in the car with the warm sun shining and that VHS.
There were a lot of behind the scenes details we didn’t know at the time, but it was a somewhat spur of the moment decision to go to the Olympics. My mom was on the phone purchasing tickets the night of the opening ceremony as we were downstairs watching in awe. My grandparents lived in a suburb of Atlanta at the time so we had a place to stay. It was a no brainer! For those who remember, there was a bombing at the Centennial Olympic Park. This happened the night we were at the hotel. There was a phone conversation between the adults and my grandparents the next morning on whether or not we would still be coming. The decision was we weren’t going to let that stop us! I’m SO thankful we still went!!!!
There are moments of our Olympic adventure that I remember vividly.
- Waiting in line for security checks, which I’m sure are much less than they are now.
- Eating lunch at Wendy’s one day and cooling off with some ‘scream.
- Taking the shuttles to and from the games. There is a funny home video of one of these trips.
- Seeing the giant red torch (yes I just googled a picture because I remembered it being red, but it’s been 22 years!)
- Watching field hockey and wondering what the heck it was any way! Using binoculars to see the rest of our family across the stadium.
- Watching a baseball game. I believe Japan was playing.
- Hearing other languages as people walked past us
- Watching the track and field events on TV with Nana and Papa as our parents watched in person.
- Playing in the fountains at Centennial Olympic Park
- Finding our brick in the park. If you ever get down there go look for it.
I suppose someone could poo-poo this and say it’s just a bunch of sporting events, but until you experience it it’s just not the same. I’d say this was my first glimpse into the world. At 7 I’m not sure if you really get the whole other countries and people living there yet.
I suppose you could say that the torch lighting was my own torch lighting for my Olympics love. Whether of not my parents know it, this was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had, and there have been a lot in my lifetime. I’m sure it was stressful with three small children and all of those people, but no one got lost, maybe just lost in the moment.
The US Speed Skating Long Track Trials were held at the Petit Center in Milwaukee this past January. Luckily we had another day off before we went back to work and were able to experience a new sport in person and an Olympic Trial.
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling very OLYMPIC today! Go for Gold, Team USA!!!!