You guys, I did it.
In the crazy, always thinking a million miles ahead brain that resides in this heavy skull, I shoved off time and remained in the moment.
This was momentous for me. It was, as Oprah would say, an “Aha moment.” No thought or worry that would enter my mind in those seven days would make them any longer or better…only shorter and sad. And the time with him was perfect. It wasn’t all fun. At times it was boring and scary, lonesome yet claustrophobic, but we enjoyed all the time we spent together.
I worried that maybe things would feel strange or awkward, that we would need an acclimation period with each other again. But we didn’t. We picked up right where we left off, but better, more sophisticated. We were more aware of the other’s feelings, taking care not to bruise one another emotionally, for our time to make repairs was short. We were honest and raw, talking about our biggest fears and worries, the physical presence of one another protective and comforting. We whispered about our dreams, the twinkle in our hazel eyes encouraging broad smiles on our faces.
It was surreal, it was short, it was wonderful.
We sat together, shoulder to shoulder, hands clasped as we watched fifteen women fight for two spots on this year’s Olympic team. Hopes were high, then they were dashed. The battles were epic: two women reigned the competition, then another pushed her way to the top, only to be knocked off the podium at the end. Yet another desperately attempted a Hail Mary, a last-ditch effort to literally muscle her way to the Olympics…and in the end, it just wasn’t enough.
Watching as two women’s’ dreams came true was exciting. The adrenaline was pumping through my veins, the endorphins almost palpable in the crowd of hundreds. But simultaneously, it was heart-wrenching to watch the women whose dreams died that day.
Four years of work, sweat, pain, blood, sacrifice: will it be enough? Is he killing himself now only to have his overtaxed heart crushed later? Is what I’m bringing to the table enough? Is it too much? Is it worth it?
Without getting into the migraine-inducing technicalities, it’s worth noting that the way this sport operates, no country is guaranteed a spot at the Olympics. They are instead based off of team performances at other world-level events. This year, the men currently don’t hold a single spot. There’s a chance they’ll eek out one in the coming months, but there’s a far greater chance they won’t. So what about the athlete that does everything right? The athlete who is the first to show up and the last to leave, the one with the deepest scars and the strongest muscles? It’s painful to think about: that we could uproot everything, turn things upside down, only to be met with devastation because as a country, we are not strong enough.
I looked over at him, wondering if he was feeling the same mixed emotions I was. And it was evident: the glory, the one shred of hope of making that team. I could see it in his eyes, the gold outshining the green, the fire of an athlete burning.
So we’re doing this. Completely, unequivocably…we’re putting all our proverbial chips in the middle of the table, and looking forward to the day four years from now where we found out if the bet we took was worth it.
I have a sneaking suspicion that either way it turns out, we’ll have no regrets.