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January 24, 2007

Few Moments of Fame

So in 1995 I was in 5th grade. In Mrs. Avery's class in the portables. Don't remember much to tell you the truth, except that we learned how to play ukulele's that year. Not exactly sure WHY, and I couldn't strum a note to save my life any more, but hey. What would my life be like had I not learned how to play "Tom Dooley"? I honestly don't know. Anyway, during the summer I got a little job to babysit my neighbor's daughter's son. She was living in the basement and working to make little metal light plate things. You know, the (normally) plastic things that hug your light switch? She was making them out of copper and burning them with some torch or something to make them all blue and pink and purple and stuff to sell at boutiques. One day after I'd put the baby down I stood in the half-kitchen with her while the International Olympic Committee announced that Salt Lake City would be hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics. Pretty exciting stuff right? Especially since we lived about 10 minutes North of Salt Lake. All I knew was that 2002 seemed LIGHT YEARS away. Eons actually. I remember thinking "I'll be in High School by then! I'll be so OLD! I'll be DRIVING!!!!!!!" Which, of course to a 5th grader is like, the ultimate in cool-ness.

Fast forward to 2001.

It's the summer before my senior year of high school and the Olympics are just around the corner. The highway construction is FINALLY nearing it's end, and Salt Lake is undergoing major renovations. We're cleaning up the trash. Finding new homes for the homeless. I've been dancing for our high school's dance team for 2 years and have made some long strides in my abilities. When I hear that they are holding auditions to dance in the Olympic ceremonies, I figured why not! I have as good a chance as any. So I grabbed my dance shoes and made up my mind to dance my little heart out. I arrived and while we all waited to begin, I started sizing up my competition. To my dismay, the large majority of them were older. Like, moms and dads. Grandmas and grandpas. I did see a hand full of potential competitors, but not nearly as many as I had thought there would be. And by the time we started learning our "number" as they called it (note: that is NOT the word PROFESSIONAL dancers use...), I was frantically looking for an exit sign. I did NOT want to be caught dead two-steppin' it in front of millions of people. I just couldn't bear the heel-turn, step-step stuff. Thankfully before I bolted, the director pulled me and about 5 other girls aside to teach us a "ROUTINE". Finally! Pirouettes! Leaps! Counts! DANCING! I learned, I performed, I went home.

Several weeks later I got a letter saying that I'd made it! I was going to dance in the closing ceremony! I couldn't be more excited, and I still had MONTHS before practices would start.

The snow began to fall, and it was time to head up to the University of Utah to practice. I had to park a zillion miles away and scurry in the frigid air clutching my dance shoes, to the right tent among hundreds. After walking in and finding the other 5 girls, we all excitedly waited for the routine we'd be taught. We'd been told that a very high profile choreographer would be working with us, and my stomach was just in knots. I couldn't eat a thing the entire day. However, after a few minutes we were told that our choreographer was unavailable, and um, they really needed a few more people for the OTHER number. Would we still be interested in participating?

Participating. Not dancing. Key word there....

Sigh, yes, we'd be interested. After all these months of shyly announcing I'd be dancing in the Olympics, I wasn't about to turn the opportunity down. So we were told that we'd be basically holding some wood pieces, and moving around. Fun huh!? "Oh! And one more thing. We're going to do it under ultra violet lights, so um, you're going to be wearing all black, with a black ski mask. Okay?!"

So practices were usually spent sitting around for the majority of the time, getting up for a few minutes to practice moving our pieces, and then sitting back down to wait. But still, I was participating in the Olympics, and that's not something that everyone gets a chance to do right? So I was happy.

The day finally came, and the excitement and fever that the entire region was feeling was still in full force. I'd been able to attend several award ceremonies, which is where they handed out the actual medals to the athletes. They were always followed by a small concert, and I'd been able to see Dave Matthews, The Foo Fighters and the Barenaked Ladies. Which rocked bytheway, even if it was outside and everyone looked like giant marshmellows standing as close as possible to one another to find some WARMTH, HOLY CRAP IT WAS COLD. I worked at the Banana Republic in the new outdoor mall right in the heart of the downtown festivities. I helped many a news reporter, athlete and sponsor try on some insanely overpriced blouses and button-ups. The Australian Coca-Cola reps? H.O.T. The Latvian ski team? Really nice. Hard to understand, but really nice. And news reporters? Curt and assuming. "Just get me a shirt to go with these pants NOW. NOW I SAY!"

So, the day was here. Slight detour, sorry.... anyway, I had to drive out to the middle of nowhere to park my car. Literally. Like, I think we were halfway out to the Great Salt Lake. Then we all had to sign away our life to get on a bus to be driven into Salt Lake. Security was tight. No one was getting in or out of the city unless they'd signed a waiver to give up their first child. This was all before 8 am. Mind you, we weren't on until like, 10 pm that night. So again, more waiting. This time along with like, 12,000 other people dressed in insanely odd clothing. I wandered around a lot, wrote in my journal, and tried to sleep.

In the last trial-run before the ceremonies, we waved at Moby who was in a little booth checking out the stage. He was the one who mixed all the music for the ceremony. He waved to my group of girls and told us we could head on over to his hotel room after for a party. Great! We'll be there!

Finally it was time! We all donned our black gear (head to toe!) and headed over to the stadium.

Along the way we ran into Christina Aguilera riding on a golf cart after her performance. I didn't think very highly of her at the time, and neither did my companions, so we all giggled as loud as possible and pretended to be absolutely overcome with excitement. She caught our sarcasm, and wasn't thrilled. Sorry Christina.

We kept walking and JUST MISSED N'Sync. Too bad...

As we were walking into the stadium I nearly ran into Donny and Marie Osmond. Hi Donny! You sure were hot in "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat". And oh, you have some hot nephews bytheway.

Then as I was waiting to go on, Bon Jovi nearly ran me over. He apologized, winked, and walked off. Mind you, I was dressed in a black...jumpsuit. You know, the kind that car dudes wear? I felt OH-SO-ATTRACTIVE, but at least I wasn't wearing the ski-mask yet. There is that.

And then we were on. I have to admit, even after all the joking we'd all done together about how lame it was, ya know, the "dancing", it was absolutely insanely amazing. The music was nearly overpowering it was so loud, and the people! There were thousands! Plus all the millions of people watching at home, my family and friends included. It was so fun to be a part of it, even if it was a small one. I met some great people, and made some great memories, as you can see.

The two weeks that the Olympics were in Salt Lake were some of the most exciting that I'd been through. The city was literally just buzzing with this sense of pride and unity. So many people had worked for so long for that moment, and it was so exciting to be in the middle of it. I can only hope to have the opportunity again. It was pretty sweet.

The girls and I. I'm the second from the left. Just enjoyin' the stadium...

Behold, the Torch.

Can you see me? Probably not. Second from the right, and REALLY lovin' the black... See the "hats" on our heads? Rolled up ski-masks...

1 comment:

em said...

Holy crap! You're famous. What a great story to tell your grandchildren ... and the internet :)