Recently, I saw a photo of an Alaska Airlines plane with an image of Apolo Ohno emblazoned on the side. Alaska is Apolo’s official sponsor. Since their hub is in Seattle, Apolo has been popping up everywhere. The folks at Alaska are very enthusiastic about him:
Personally, I find the whole thing bemusing as hell. Because, as crazy as it sounds, in our house, Apolo is the one that got away.
Sort of. Maybe.
Years ago, when I was in journalism school, I was an intern at Evening Magazine (a newsy-type entertainment show on the Seattle’s NBC affiliate). The 2002 Winter Olympics were about to start in Salt Lake City, and everyone in Seattle was freaking out about local-boy-made-good, Apolo Ohno. Someone from Evening Magazine was interviewing him in the studio downstairs, and I remember casually saying to the producer, “Oh, he’s kind of cute.”
“Seriously? Do you want me to introduce you?”
“Huh? Oh, no, I didn’t mean that-”
“Oh my god that would be sooo cute. We are totally introducing you.”
“That’s really not -”
“You’re even about the same age – it would be perfect.”
It was at this point that about five other producers and writers for the show jumped in on the frenzy, and someone was actually grabbing my arm to drag me downstairs to meet Apolo, despite my protests. I kept saying, “I’m actually seeing someone right now” to no avail. Finally, I said (or possibly screamed), “I have a boyfriend.” At this, they relented.
It was the first time I had referred to Rand as “my boyfriend”.
When I told a journalism-school frenemy (that’s right, kids – I SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE) about it, she shook her head. “You should have at least gone to meet him,” she said. “He’s short, but so are you.”
I’m glad I didn’t go. Not that it would have meant anything. I doubt that had I walked down to the studio to meet Apolo, we’d have fallen madly in love and ran off together. Judging by his tweets, it would not have worked out between us (Dear god, the typos. And the unnecessary exclamations points. How I hate excessive enthusiasm). But like the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking, it might have set off a chain of events that led me somewhere else. To some other life – not one that would necessarily be bad, but one that would be different than the one that I have. And at times that makes me very, very sad.
The thing is, I can imagine life without Rand, but I can’t imagine finding someone else with whom I’d be as happy. I know that’s silly – I’m sure if we hadn’t met, things would have been just fine for both of us – but it wouldn’t be the way it is now, and I can’t help but find that singularly heart-breaking.
It’s hard to keep that in mind when you are feeling insecure about your career, but so secure about everything else. I occasionally wonder about my choices. Whether I should have tried harder. Sent out more applications. Written more stories.
But then I remember that I hated broadcast journalism, and after some stints spent copywriting, blogging, copywriting, and blogging again, it seems like I’ve finally figured out what I’m supposed to be doing.
Kind of. Not that it makes me any money. Or sounds legitimate in any way, shape, or form. But still – this (whatever the hell this is) is more me than anything else I’ve ever done. I need to remember that. To stop putting it down. To stop saying, “I’m just a blogger.”
Of course, none of those revelations stop me from teasing my husband every time I see Apolo Ohno.
“There’s the other man,” I say.
Rand smiles. “He could have taken you to a lot more places than I can.”
He might be right. But I’ve started to realize it’s not where you go. It’s who’s in the seat next to you. I doubt Apolo would put up with 1/4 of the travel-related insanity that Rand does.
Besides … I hate excessive enthusiasm.