July 27, 2012

London Olympics

The opening ceremonies start tonight in London (actually, they start tonight in the US, they've been over for a few hours already in London) for the 2012 Olympic games, marking 4, 8 and 12 years since a memory or event from my past. The Olympics are big enough to form these kinds of associations, even though the games have absolutely nothing to do with the events from my life. Well, except for the first one...

In 2000 the Olympics were in Sydney, Australia and we named my sister's cat Sydney Alexander Australia in part to commemorate the games and in part because of the book Alexander and the Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Day because of the first day poor little Sydney had (he was a flea infested pound kitten and did not have a pleasant first experience with the bath). In 2004 Sydney died, two months before the next summer Olympics in Athens (very sadly poetic). In 2008, when the games were in Bejing, The Ex and I promised that we would make it to the next games in London, in 2012. I fantasized that that trip, since we'd been to London together already, would be when he'd propose. Because that'd be poetic and romantic as hell. And now it's the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, and guess who's not in London? This girl.

(Side note: the opening ceremonies are today, which is three years to the week from when I ended the relationship that was supposed to culminate [in my fantasy] in engagement this week. It's also one year to the week from when the boyfriend and I had our [second] first date. Interesting business.)

Instead, this girl will spend the 2012 Olympics in San Diego, happy to be nowhere near London, celebrating her one year anniversary with the boyfriend. I have an alternative take on the saying "you never know what you have until it's gone": when you lose something you often see it for what it truly is, without the benefit of rose colored glasses. You can see what you lost for what it actually is, rather than what was yours, which is always going to be better simply because it's yours. I saw my relationship with The Ex wholly differently once it was over and realized how much I'd given up for the sake of the relationship. The fantasy of a proposal in London this year only existed because by then we'd have been dating for almost 8 years and I was sure we'd have had everything figured out by then and be sure we wanted to be together forever. But after the break up I was able to see far more clearly how badly that would have been for the both of us. Just because we had been together for a long time did not mean we should stay together, and when I finally realized that (in addition to how incompatible we actually were) I was able to let the relationship go. 

(And in exchange I got someone who I know I'm compatible with on every major issue, someone who makes me laugh every day, someone who I look at and cannot believe my luck. I don't think I need to let him go to know what I've got.)

Meanwhile, back to the Olympics. I feel like this year there's a lot more controversy around the games. I know there has always been some sort of news story that sweeps the world about doping or accommodations, or the awful air quality of China... but this year we've had the embarrassingly poor photos of the US athletes, and I have not stopped hearing about how branding the Olympics has gotten so wildly out of control. It almost doesn't seem like anyone's having any fun anymore. Maybe it's just the news sources I tune in to, but I have yet to hear something positive about these games. Instead, I've heard how mom and pop shops near the games can't sell products because of branding restrictions, how Olympic employees are forced to sign gag contracts to not discuss anything about their jobs or let family or friends visit them, how two Olympic athlete siblings are competing for one spot, how there are missiles on apartment rooftops for "security reasons," and how travelers need to learn how to not look like a terrorist to not be suspicious (that last one is supposed to be funny). It isn't seeming worth the trouble and expense. But there are, this year and always, hundreds of thousands of people who do care to make it worth the trouble and expense, even though the Olympics will always have this sort of trouble.

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