I love the Olympics. It’s like a two-week Christmas that comes around only once every four years. It’s something to eat breakfast in front of, to watch while lacing up shoes and right before bed.
The furthest back I can remember is Sydney 2000—I was young, but I remember how much I loved watching Ian Thorpe swimming (I still love Ian Thorpe). My family watched Matthew Pinsent win his fourth gold medal on a tiny TV in a Scottish B&B in 2004. In 2008, I was getting over jet lag after coming back from America and watched a ridiculous amount of Olympics coverage while trying to recover—that was when I really fell in love with the Games. It amazes me how much I’ve grown in the four years hence, and how much has changed for me. But this time it’s special (and surreal) because it’s at HOME.
Because this year’s Olympics are in Britain, it’s the first time I have felt an obligation to watch the opening ceremony from start to finish. I knew it would be great the minute I heard that Danny Boyle would be directing. But I didn’t know the Queen would say “Good evening, Mr. Bond” and my heart would leap over itself. I didn’t know I’d get so excited by lit-up trampoline beds spelling out NHS to celebrate our national health service—one of the things I am most proud of. I didn’t know I would swell with pride at our amazing music history and amazing music now—Dizzee Rascal and the Arctic Monkeys were such good live choices, while Paul McCartney actually managed to direct a whole Olympic stadium sing-song of “Hey Jude.” I didn’t know I’d get genuinely emotional when the Great Britain athletes trouped out last to the tune of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Gosh, there are so many other things I could say I loved about it. It was British; it wasn’t too serious, it wasn’t trying to live up to Beijing’s spectacle, it did manage to reflect some of the best bits of this country, and it did involve the most amazing volunteers—normal people, who fitted in just as well as Shakespeare and Brunel and the Queen.
Britain is my home. We have lived here, in my home, for four Olympics now. But next time we won’t be here. Dad will have most likely retired, and we’ll move out of the house that the church he works for owns. My brother will have finished university. Who knows where I’ll be the next time round. This has been on my mind lately. In four years’ time, I would like to be out of Birmingham. I would like to maybe be out of Britain. I could be anywhere, and the Olympics could be a touchstone for my nostalgia, and my support of Team GB may be my way to nurse homesickness.
For now though, I am here. I can waste two weeks on the sofa. I can spend all my time watching crazy sports I’d never usually watch and having a novel patriotism play as constant background noise. I’ll be thinking about now and the future. This house and this country. I wish this house, this home, could always be here to come back to for the rest of my life. It won’t be, of course. But at least the Olympics will come back every four years, like clockwork. ♦