Big Decisions, Olympics, Chocolate Ice Cream, and Dreams Come True
I made a big decision that summer.
My parents gave me the choice to go back to camp with my old friends or go to camp earlier in the summer—with all new people—so I could be home to watch the 1996 Olympics. In my hometown. For an 11-year-old who did not easily make friends coupled with my indecisive nature, the decision kept me awake night after night. Camp friends were known. The Olympics were primarily unknown and I didn’t know what to expect.
It was my first ‘big’ decision I remember making all by myself.
I finally decided to go to camp earlier in the summer in order to experience the whirlwind of excitement and national pride the Olympics brought that summer. I was fully prepared with my Olympic rings t-shirt, visor and my key chain that proudly jingled from my monogrammed backpack.
It was a coming of age sort of summer.
My dad got tickets for us to several events, where we drank overpriced Icees and chanted, “USA! USA! USA!” with the crowd. My sisters and I got to break bedtime rules and would pile on my grandmother’s couch and watch the athletes. I think I had a bowl of ice cream every night, as the dessert rules disappeared along with our bedtime.
The best part of the 1996 summer Olympics was watching the US women’s gymnastics team, The Magnificent Seven, win gold. The Soviet Union had remained undefeated since 1950—and the world seemed to be watching as the American team showed they had what it took to win gold. The seven members of the team were Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, and Jaycie Phelps. I’d never seen anything like their tiny, muscular bodies launching across the uneven bars, doing elaborate floor routines, catapulting over the vault—and was truly captivated by their performance.
My family and I were glued to the TV when Kerri Strug injured her ankle in the first vault—and no one breathed as she limped off the mat. We nervously watched as she went up for her second vault—knowing she had to stick it in order to win gold. But on an injured ankle? It just wasn’t possible. Then the impossible became possible as Kerri stuck the landing ON ONE FOOT. Do you remember when her coach carried her off the mat? What a triumphant victory! Here’s the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFn47a_Ny0Y.
I watched this moment as an awkward 11-year-old with frizzy hair—I felt Kerri’s pain and her joy. I saw determination and drive that I wanted to emulate in my life. It was like she whispered from the mat to me, “You can do anything you set your mind to. Dreams do come true.”
A summer of big decisions, Olympics, chocolate ice cream, and dreams come true—I can’t imagine a better way to peer into the world of adulthood.
Have you been watching the Olympics this year? Do you remember 1996 when the Magnificent Seven won gold?
If you liked this post, you may also like:
- A Letter to a High School Girl
- Achy-Breaky Hearts | On Moving On
- Fool-Proof Your Marriage | What are Your Rules?
- Life As A Mrs. | Lately…