“Next Stop: Homebush!”
The train is so crowded we can barely breathe. My boyfriend at the time is short – all I can see is the tip of his baseball cap through the sea of people. It is hot and doesn’t smell great, but the ride is pretty short from Circular Quay down to the stadium at Homebush. We are on our way to our first Olympic event.
So, it’s not actually an event. It’s a heat, the runup to the real thing. Since my significant other did not feel he needed to work, and frequently stole the rent money I had earned to buy beer, we didn’t have a lot of extra money to buy tickets with. Instead of kicking his lazy butt to the curb and buying myself some real tickets (as I wish wish wish now I had done), I settled for tickets to the heats for rowing and for some track and field events. These were good enough for me, and we got to spend a lovely afternoon in a relatively empty stadium, with great seats and a great view.
At the time we were living in a house with a bunch of New Zealanders – Kiwis they’re called. I had gone into Sydney the weekend before the heats and sought out flags for each of us – mini palm-sized flags for the Kiwis, a torso-sized British flag for my English boyfriend, and an absolutely humongous, bigger-than-a-beach-towel-sized American flag for me. Some may say this is typical over-the-top patriotic American behavior – I say they only had my flag in that large size, and I’m sticking to my story. Anyway, the Kiwis had tucked their flags in their hippy hemp purses, Ben had tied his flag like a doo rag around his head, and I wore mine like a cape. We were frickin idiots, but we were pretty tame compared to some: we hadn’t gone for the full body paints, shaved tattooed heads, or complete hand-sewn matching outfits in our countries’ colors.