These people, these Olympians, impress me in so very many ways. They have such focus and determination and desire. I love sitting witness to the fruition of their dream. Some have come back and come back again and tried and hoped and trained, and finally receive redemption and validation. Some do not. But to me, all of them are champions in their own ways, in their own skin.
I remember when the Olympics were hosted by Los Angeles in 1984. My father worked at Cal State Los Angeles where they held some of the events. I remember going to the campus and feeling the magic, the vibration of the festival. I do not even remember if we watched any events, I can just recall walking around the campus and knowing in my heart that something wonderful was happening. I was 10 years old and along with millions of other young girls, found myself riveted to the TV when Mary Lou Retton came on. She meant so many things to my young girl Self, she was all I thought about for weeks after the Games.
That local Olympic festival left me with two very tangible things. The first was a desire to participate in gymnastics. After the Games, I signed up and trained, eventually even competed in lower level divisions. I was much too old when I started, and a part of me knew that. I never dreamed of Olympic gold but thrived on the environment of learning and challenge and discipline. My years of dance made the transition easier, but I never really conquered a fear of the uneven bars and eventually I asked my very supportive parents if I could leave it behind. I returned to dance and have never really regretted the decision. I just wish I was still as strong and flexible as that young girl who used to whip around the floor or perch precariously on the beam.
The other tangible? Well, after the Games, my father collected up three of the metal framed bunk beds used in the Olympic dorms. He brought them home to his growing family and explained where they came from. You would have thought they were Olympic gold. For weeks we would reverently touch the frames, thrilled to know we laid our heads in the very same spot some of the amazing Olympians had. I also may have embellished the story to classmates just a bit and bragged that I had May Lou Retton's actual bed (oh, yes I did). Those beds served our family for many years, withstanding much abuse, and they always meant so very much despite their lack of style or adornment.
Now, during these Games, I am making another tangible. We knitters, looped as we are, tend to jump at the chance to challenge ourselves. So, a few Games ago, a wonderful knitter/blogger/writer The Yarn Harlot started the Knitting Olympics. You pick a project, cast on at the Opening Ceremony and attempt to finish it by the end of the two weeks. I did it during the Summer Games with some success.
This year I chose a lovely and serviceable project designed by the esteemed Elizabeth Zimmerman.
Yards of yards of wool consumed by the simplest of garter stitch, perfect for knitting and watching, perfect because in the end you have the most lovely and elfin of pieces, sure to fit a small child for years and years. In a very appropriate turn, it will go to a Canadian friend (well, her young daughter), to be used in a place that receives blankets of snow and low enough temperatures to need a thick wool sweater.
A few things I am not loving is the NBC coverage with their sensationalism and sappy spots on the serious athletes. And their extremely late night showing times (thank god for the DVR for those mights when I fall asleep drooling in my knitting, like last night). And their horrible announcers that love to point out the supposed 'failure' of an athlete when things do not go well. I like that I can zip past their unneeded commentary and focus on the thing that I do love, the people and their achievements and joyous accomplishment.
And now, back to my own joyous accomplishment. Knit on, fellow Olympic knitter people. We can do it.
Btw :: Like the delicious juicy colors of the garter stitch? I do. Mmmmmm.