My kids and I were Olympics refugees this summer. “Yes, we live in London. Yes, the Olympics were, in fact, in London. Indeed, it would have been exciting to be there,” she says in a
weary cheery tone.
But we left. And though I’m tired of feeling the need to justify it, I’ll explain just once more. You see, I’m crazy about my family. Summer is my chance to spend time with the people I love in various distant (from London) places I love. Not even the Olympics could tempt me away from time in my hometown with my family. Not even prime tickets to the Olympics– which we didn’t have, anyway– could have tempted me away from time in the mountains with my Colorado-based son and my husband’s family. Beside, the agency that runs public transport had warned us for months that we were going to be miserable and unable to set foot out our front doors during the Games. We believed them, and apparently so did a lot of other Londoners.
Anyway. These Olympics needed to simply keep calm and carry on without me. The fact that I call London home now made me doubly happy, and kind of proud, to watch them do just that– pretty spectacularly I would say– from various screens across the U.S.
While athletes from around the world went about their business in London, I went about my business in the U.S., performing amazing feats of strength and endurance in such events as the deadlift (suitcases…I momhandled a whole mountain of luggage by myself in Chicago). Another was the marathon (more than an hour in line for the rental car– with a reservation). The pentathlon (of remembering-how-to-do-things) in the first hours back in the USA: drive a car on the correct side of the road, pump my own gas, swipe a credit card (instead of inserting and punching pin), order at the fast-food stop saying “to go” instead of “for takeaway,” and remembering to ask where the restrooms are instead of where the toilets are (as you must in the UK if you want to be sent to the right place).
My first gold, though, came in the lawn ornament endurance trials. I’ve trained for this event through many years of visits to my parents’ home, and I’m happy to tell you that I peaked at just the right time to pull off a once-in-a-lifetime performance. For several days straight I managed to sit for hours in the Adirondack chair out on the long, shady, front lawn. The kids rode bikes up and down the long, L-shaped driveway with their cousins. Mom and Dad and my sister, Heidi, wandered in and out of the circle of chairs throughout the day. But not me, really– I just sat there. Early mornings, I took a cup of coffee with me; afternoons I switched it out for an icy Vernors (mmm!). Evenings, it was sometimes even a cold beer.
Fortunately, this most demanding event did allow me to see several old friends and lots of extended family members while in Ohio. (Some things are worth breaking your training regimen for…). I loved each and every reunion, and while I’d love to tell you about some of them– seeing family and old friends, and our puppy Gus again– I think I’ll save that for another day.
You see, today I’m engaged in another event– let’s call it a Paralympic Event, in honor of the games going on now here in London. (“No, I haven’t been to those, either. Yes, it really is a missed opportunity, isn’t it?” she said in a
sarcastic, weary cheery tone). My event today is called Techno Hurdles. Might even be a Steeplechase, given the puddles of chilly water below each hurdle. It’s a series of challenges, the first of which is to get British Telecom wi-fi to stop hijacking your connection through Virgin Media and sending you pop-up windows to offer their services for a fee despite the fact that they just disrupted the service you are already paying for. Once you x out and re-establish your previous connection, you have to figure out why the printer and the computer refuse to talk with one another. Then you have to find workarounds to scan and fax a signature to your daughter in America, because she really needs it today, whether or not the printer and computer are friends. And, really, I could go on and on, because, (like the Ginsu knives’ ‘but wait! There’s more!’), there certainly are more hurdles to clear. But you would be bored to read about them, and I would be bored recounting more of them.
Would you judge me harshly if I told you that at 11:30am I am drinking my 2nd decaf, after a regular long Americano earlier this morning? So yes, my 3rd cup. Desperate times and all that, mate. After all, I’m in training.