I’m going to break with my genealogy theme for this entry.
Last night the 2010 Winter Olympics torch arrived in my town. The Olympics are an interesting thing. When I first heard Vancouver/Whister were bidding for them I was quite excited. When we won the bid I was even more excited. I thought how I would get to see world-class figure skaters in my own area instead of just on tv. I thought of how I would volunteer. That was a decade ago now.
The reality is a little different. With figure skating tickets starting at $175 (plus fees & taxes) it seems I can not afford to attend, even if I had the required Visa card (being a sponsor, it’s the ONLY way to pay) to order them. If you want one of the best seats for the Opening Ceremonies, it will cost you $1000 (plus fees & taxes). As for the volunteering…well, it turns out I moved away from the Lower Mainland a few years ago, so now the commute to participate is too much. It would’ve meant a 5-6 hour drive each way to attend an interview, and if I passed that, then to attend at least one training session, and then of course again for the times I would be volunteering. I have to say I am disappointed. I had hoped to feel so much more involved, to participate in these olympics. But it seems it’s not to be so.
So while I knew the Olympic Torch was arriving here yesterday, I felt disenchanted and wasn’t sure I’d go out to see it.
After much hmmm’ing and haw’ing, I decided it would be good to get out for some air if nothing else. I put on a red scarf (they asked us to wear red to support Canada) and headed out. Within two blocks I started to meet up with other people walking on the street, some wearing the olympic red mittens (sold out), some team jerseys and various other bits of red. So one became five, and then on a street corner at a light, we became 15. Another block later we were a swarm of 20. By the time we were just outside the park where the celebration was to take place we were a steady stream of people–families with children, seniors, young teens and singles like myself. There was a building excitement just in that.
Inside the park a big stage with a huge screen was set up and thousands of people were packed in front of it watching local musicians. Food stands Imini-donuts!) lined one side of the audience, and sponsor vehicles lined the other (with lineups at each one, as there were things to be seen or freebies to be had). There definitely a certain feeling in the air. It was about an hour until the torch was to arrive.
The stage show’s host did all he could to “pump us up” with excitment. I imagine the poor man had done this every evening for the past almost three months. And then I realized, as I looked about and saw everyone enjoying themselves and waving their flags and little glo-light torches, that my depression was once again stopping me from feeling it. Disdain was what I felt towards that show host, thinking he was trying to whoop us up like we were some mindless idiots. Realizing why it was emotinally I was not engaged, I made myself line up with the others along the route the torch would take as it entered the park.
I got quite a good photo of the torch and runner as they came down the path. And then it was gone, and up to the stage where it lit a “community cauldron”, which I assume will burn until the games are done.
I found myself feeling overwhelmed by all the people, everywhere thanks to my social anxiety, and no excitement whatsoever about the torch. Finding a bench I sat down and tried to control my breathing (panic) and my sadness at the lack of joy I could feel. It was one of those times, becoming all too frequent, where I almost got “stuck”. “Stuck” is when I’ve found a little pull-out from the crowds to rest and recuperate, and find myself unwilling, afraid in fact, of re-entering the crowd, even to get myself home.
So I came home, glad that I had gotten out for some air at least, wishing I could have felt some joy. I’m not sorry I went out and saw the torch. It is an honour and really a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I know this intellectually if not emotionally.
On February 12th, I will begin to watch the 2010 Winter Olympics, on my tv, as if it were happening half a world away.