I didn’t watch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics this year. I was going to, I had planned to sit in the dark of my living room and have a good cry all by myself but then I had friends in town all week. We were headed to a kiddo baptism in St. George. The NBC app was dumb and the tape delay wasn’t especially helpful and so I gave up. I peeked on Twitter to catch a few photos, admired how good they all looked and then I went back to my life.
I have made a bunch of big life decisions in the 2 ½ years since I got home from the last Olympics. I changed jobs twice. I moved to a big crazy city and then I moved to a small, familiar city. I got my heart handed to me a couple of times by people I should not have given it to in the first place. I bought a house. I thought it wise to “put down some roots”.
As the Games approached I felt good, solid in every choice since Sochi that got me to this cute tiny kitchen table in a neighborhood where I can walk to the store and to yoga and have dinner every Sunday with all my favorite people under 4 years old. My job is solid and challenging and my coworkers are great and some days I feel a little bit guilty about how easy and awesome this move to Utah has been.
I got a lot of questions about how I was handling missing the Olympics and I sincerely felt like I was being honest when I said that I know I’m in a different chapter of my life and that the Games are fun but not like, THAT fun and I’m very, very content with my choices.
But can I let you in on a little secret? THAT GAMES ARE TOTALLY THAT FUN! They are so hard, and so much work, and so so much less glamour than what always made it onto my social channels. Every single Olympics I would write an email to future me saying “don’t do this again, it’s horrible”. But that sliver that IS fun? That IS glamorous? It’s what I imagine keeps people doing hard drugs. It’s so, so good. You sit at the end of the day with your eyelids about to slide off your head but you were standing there when some major thing happened that every human on the planet heard about. You talked to more people TODAY that are the best in the entire world at a thing than most people will in their entire lives. It’s wild and it’s unpredictable and you have stories to tell that you realize sound like bragging but they are just the real things that happened to you. It’s once in a lifetime experiences, over and over and over and it’s awesome and dangerous and for me, it didn’t allow one bit of room for things in my life that I said mattered.
I read all my post-Games blog posts before these started and every single one of them ends with me saying how I hoped I would keep my priorities straight and start checking off some of my regular life goals. And then I would get on a plane and go somewhere far flung and they cycle would start again and on and on. I sucked the marrow out of those years with the USOC. I stayed extra days in fabulous cities, I had wildly exciting but not remotely sustainable dating experiences, I met super interesting people, I stayed up too late, I said yes to everything. The Olympics were never over for me. I was in Germany scouting locations for 2014 about two weeks after I got home from London.
Which is all to say that I really thought I was in a great place for Rio. At peace and happy with where I am. I was briefly dating someone this summer and as we were watching Track and Field one night I texted a friend who I knew was in the venue to say that my seat on his couch was way better this time than four years ago.
I was caught off guard with how gut-wrenching it was to watch the best party I have ever been to go off without me. My social media feeds were flooded with the first person accounts from, and I’m not exaggerating here, hundreds of people I knew in Rio and I started having tiny, daily panic attacks. I sat on that same couch, with that same sweet man a few weeks later and thought “holy sh*t is this my life now? Are the once-in-a-lifetimes over? Has my passport seen it’s last stamp?”
I like life to be clean. I like clear beginnings and endings and I dig the idea of chapters opening and closing and the experiences of life not sloshing into each other. I’m rather unnerved to learn that at nearly 40 years old, I am still being blind-sided by the universe and it’s dumb lessons. I am such a believer that there are seasons of our lives and that we aren’t supposed to trip ourselves up with arbitrary timelines but I’m standing here straddling a chasm of “my eggs are dying by the second” and “what if I never dance on a beach in Thailand?”. Both options make me nauseous. There are times that I spend an evening with my nieces and I want my own baby so badly the sensation is physical. And there are other times when I book a last minute ticket to go hang out backstage at Red Rocks with a band I love because I can and it’s hard to imagine giving up a lifestyle that allows such a thing.
Ultimately I know I made good decisions, I am in a great place. I’m happy. And by the next Games I will be removed enough that it won’t feel like an assault every time I open Facebook and ten people I used to sit by are doing sunrise yoga on Copacabana Beach. In the meantime, I’m going to learn how to sit in the dissonance of knowing you did A right thing, but you probably won’t ever be sure it’s THE right thing.