At 12:34pm on Saturday, June 1, 1996, I wrote the following in my journal.
Today, I saw the Olympic Torch.
Originally, I was going to get my lunch at the Burger King by IBM to avoid any traffic tie-ups downtown with it passing through. But as I was heading down 7th street, I turned onto West Circle Drive figuring that, since it was raining bad, that there wouldn't be any traffic problems because nobody would be out to watch.
Boy, was I wrong.
At first, I didn't really think much of the torch relay and couldn't find anything exciting about it. But as i moved down 2nd street I started to see clumps of people waiting in the rain. Then I turned south onto Broadway where even more people had gathered in less shelter. Wow, I thought, I just might get a glimpse. I went through the BK drive-thru pulled back out onto B'way and then I saw the escourt trucks and police escourts. The slow procession stretched out to just North of Crossroads shopping center. Those of us going south slowed to rubber-necker speed.
And then, just south of Pizza Hut, sandwiched between police cars and lit by the glow of red, white, and blue lights, she came. It wasn't the flickering Bic-lighter glow I've seen on TV -- it was a roaring flame reaching up to the sky and laughing in defiance at the rain that tried to wash it out. But glowing just as brightly was the smile on the young woman carrying it. Surely soaked to the bone, her smile nearly washed out the torch's light. Like many others, I honked my horn in encouragement and appreciation as we coasted by. She waved back nearly blinding us with that smile. I smiled too and waved back. Then I laughed. Look at me! For something I thought was rather foolish was now making me look the fool and I didn't even care. Emotion started to well up in my throat as we passed by. This silliness is what the Olympics are all about. Higher, Faster, Stronger.
Listen, I can still feel it inside me as I write about it. That may be the closest I'll ever get to being involved with the Olympics outside of going on a tour of the training center in Colorado Springs, and there it was, in possibly the worst weather a flame can burn in. I'm still laughing at myself and shaking my head. Wonderful Silliness, that's what it was, Kevin. Wonderful Silliness.
It was Joy that I saw on her face. That type of Joy you have almost no idea how it got there, but you just really don't care. A smile that says, "I'll smile forever as long as I remember this moment."