Monday, August 11, 2008

Oh how those moments creep up on you.
Sometimes they happen too fast for you to realize that you are a part of it.
Watching it happen live, no matter what country or city or time zone.
Last night, I think that I had experienced enough of these moments to really really know.
I remember watching Kerri Strug land on one leg when I was a little girl staying up late with my dad, have watched it over and over enough to know the words, the tone, the inflection of the announcers. "Kerri Strug is hurt! She is hurt badly!"
Same with Sarah Hughes, another late father-daughter sports night as I watched her land jump after jump after jump, only a couple of years older than me, ending in a screaming joyful heap, Scott Hamilton yelling louder than anyone from his seat in the press box. "And that gives-- Sarah Hughes the gold medal! What an upset!"
They don't have to be Olympic.
In fact, quite recently I found myself jumping up and down, screaming deep from my gut, unable to contain the sheer disbelief and jubilation-- "I SUBMIT TO YOU, DAVIDSON COLLEGE TO THE SWEET SIXTEEN!"
That last one may have been a little different because that is my community. That is our accomplishment. The entire March Madness run hit me as close to the heart as possible because I know how hard those boys work every day, how much they care for each other, how much a part of our school they are. And it was just unbelievable.
But in the midst of the memories and the blurriness, last night re-reminded me how special this tradition is.
Because as Jason Lezak began to almost impossibly pull in front of Alain Bernard halfway around the world from where I am, 11:30 PM to their 11:30 AM, yet exactly the same-- dad, Mason, and I yelled like we were in the Water Cube, stood up, clapped our hands
"Come on come on come on come on come on come on--"
"Here comes Lezak!"
"He did it! He did it he did it!"
"Phelps's hopes alive!"
When they're not supposed to win when you want them to win but think they probably won't win when it looks like they aren't going to win until they actually win--
Maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for those situations.
But all of that-- coupled with the look on Michael Phelps' face, the joy, the announcers unable to contain themselves, our guys graciously congratulating the team that had guaranteed a victory against us, hearing Cullen Jones and Garrett Weber-Gale and Phelps and Lezak talk about team work, seeing them on that podium, and hearing those familiar strains--
brings the Olympics home for me. Secures my country better into my heart, despite flaws, despite frustrations, in the midst of appreciation.
I called Katie immediately-- literally like a minute after the end of the race.
"We're going to tell our children that we saw that," she said.
(photo from facebook group "The Men's 4x100 Relay was the Greatest Swimming Moment of all Time")