February 12, 2010. After 2,400 days of buildup, anticipation, fatigue, and anxiety, the Olympics had finally arrived in Vancouver. Yet the sense of reality, the feeling that the wait was actually over, lagged far behind the pace set by the countdown clock. The torch was in Vancouver, but the Games still felt distant.
While I had been looking forward to the Olympics since Vancouver was announced as host, in the last days leading up to the opening ceremonies, a feeling of anxiety had slowly eclipsed my excitement. All I hoped of the games was for Vancouver and Canada to not embarrass ourselves. So far things we’re looking good with the facilities and with the overal ‘Look of the Games’. As yet we had managed to avoid any serious cock-ups.
I was up early on this most anticipated of days, watching the torch relay on television. I had planned on heading out to get some photos of the relay, but I knew that the torch was going to criss-cross the city throughout most of the day and I was procrastinating.
When I heard that a very special surprise bearer was going to be receiving the torch and passing two blocks from my home, I anticipated another Matt Lauer or Michael Bublé. My motivation to capture such a moment for posterity did not overcome my considerable morning inertia.
However, when Walter Gretzky stepped out of the torch bearer’s mini-bus and the crowd erupted with cheering, I leapt into my clothes, snatched my camera, and flew out the door.
I arrived at Granville and Smithe and chose my spot. The torch had not yet passed to Mr. Gretzky, so I had a few minutes to take in the scene. The streets were definitely buzzing, but so far the torch escort was a bit of overkill for the amount of crowd-control needed.
First kiss, first bike, first time you swore in front of an adult, firsts are important. The firsts we experience tend to shape our paths through life. That’s not to say that our lives are governed completely by the chance experiences over which we have no control, but if, for example, your first experience with a dog is getting mauled, your path through life will be somewhat different from other puppy-loving children.
Thankfully, not all memorable firsts are traumatic. We all have our keepsake memories that transport us back to our salad days. These warmly remembered moments together define our youth and ultimately have shaped our future selves. One of my earliest formative moments was the first movie I ever watched in the theatre. That experience kindled in me a passion for movies. It’s probably the first and oldest of the passions I still hold today.
I can enjoy watching a movie that I don’t enjoy.
I love movies. My tastes are sophisticated and discerning, yet at the same time incredibly eclectic. I can appreciate a filet mignon of film as much as I can appreciate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich of a movie. Neither is necessarily better, neither could suffice when in the mood for the other. Both can be done quite well, both can be done very poorly. The experience of watching a movie can transcend the movie itself. Without any contradiction, I can enjoy watching a movie that I don’t enjoy.
My love of movies started in the Summer of 1986. My mother had remarried the year previous and, while with no step-siblings, I suddenly had a whole new family. One of my new relations was Uncle Steve, or as he offered “Uncle Example”. Uncle Example who, in his mid-twenties, had just as suddenly found himself the occasional custodian of two hellion boys of the ages 9 (my brother) and 7 (me). Uncle Example, with whom “the only rule is that there are no rules”, took us to the first movie I watched in the theatre: Aliens.