Anyone who spent time with me in January was aware that I was not the biggest supporter of the Olympics coming to Vancouver. I did not support the city's decision to place the bid, and I was a vocal dissenter right up to the night of the ceremonies. Let's just be clear, I didn't don any masks or smash any windows mostly because I am not one for the active protesting, but I did my fair share of grumbling. I grumbled about the disruption to my transit schedules. I grumbled about the money that was being spent. I grumbled about the temporary solutions for the downtown east side. I grumbled about the lack of tipping prowess that would be sure to reign in at work. Yet despite all my grumbling, the games began. I missed the opening ceremonies because I was working. I missed the first few events because I was sick. I was adamant that I wouldn't be caught anywhere NEAR downtown Vancouver for two weeks.
Then, Jenn Heil won silver, and I watched her stand on the podium.
When I finally had a few days off (Valentine's weekend is a complete time suck for severs) Derek suggested we go downtown and take a look at the cauldron. I was skeptical but he convinced me that it would be wasteful to pass up the chance to experience Vancouver like we would never see it again. "How will it feel to tell people you didn't even go look?" was the sentiment. He was right, and I convinced myself that as a writer I couldn't pass up the chance to see it all. So we made a quick stop at Zellers to grab some "I Believe" mittens (I couldn't run the risk of being evicted from the downtown core for my lack of patriotism) and I ended up with a toque as well (couldn't have my ears getting cold as I was recovering from being under the weather). We hopped on the skytrain and got off at Waterfront. Immediately I realized the magnitude of this event, for good or for bad. We asked a volunteer in bright blue where we could find the cauldron and proceeded to walk.
Then, I saw the flame.
Something inside me that had been SO resistant to the whole idea of the Olympics lifted off my shoulders, and I was immediately caught up in it all. It is difficult to stay off the bandwagon when everyone who has hopped on is sharing free hot chocolate and warming each other under their giant Canada flags. I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics, but as soon as we reached the cauldron, I couldn't shake the fact that I was SO glad they had come to our city, and I was now standing in the middle of the West Coast's biggest party. Everything was different. Derek and I were crowded around a 2010 sign, trying to take pictures when a woman walked up and offered to take one for us. We handed her our expensive iPhones wihtout even the idea of mistrust entering our minds. She took our pictures, and we took hers. We reveled in the privilege of hosting the world with her. In those moments, I was reborn, like a Phoenix out of the ashes of the malfunctioning Olympic flame.
Then, hockey began.
My excitement was threefold. Not only was great hockey going on, but my team was being broadcast on a local channel AND they were the favourite to win! (Can you tell I'm an Oiler's fan in Real Life?) I served through several games, and watched all the others, but no matter where I was, I was involved. I could feel the weight of that gold medal, hanging in the balance. It was magic. I watched Tessa and Scott skate their medal winning skates! I watched Joannie Rochette triumph in honour of her mother. I watched both the men and the women sweep for Gold in hockey.
I walked the streets of Robson square, witnessed the protesters, the zipline, the line ups, the love, and through it all I was converted. I spent way more money than I should have on experiencing the city, and I barely wrote a word for three weeks, but I am not sorry. I've been called a band wagon jumper, a hypocrite, and a few other choice phrases, but I can say with confidence that I am SO glad the Olympics came to Vancouver and I'm even happier that I lived here to see it. I'm ready for my "I survived Vancouver 2010" badge now. I DO believe.