The Good Rainy Days – 2016 Olympics

The Good Rainy Days – 2016 Olympics

The Salt Compass Madeleine Hagan 2016 Olympics Inkheart
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

It’s just one of those days again. An Inkheart day. That’s my rainy day go-to book, but only the good rainy days, mind you. And by good rainy days I mean the kind of days described in the opening chapter of that book. Something about it has a folded up mix of warmth and comfort, yet excitement (like an adventure could not be too far away) rolling off the pages in waves as Meggie looks up from the book she keeps under her pillow and sees Dustfinger standing outside in the rain.

It’s hot and humid outside today with rain falling in sheets that make that funny sound on top of the house, like sunflower seeds the size of golf balls are hitting the roof and rolling down hundreds at a time, while thunder rumbles behind the nearby mountain. Inside however, it’s crisp, almost cold. The white curtains in my room are thick enough to keep the grey outside but let the light inside, turning everything in the room white and the blue walls brighter. I get goosebumps from where I sit and want to wrap a blanket around me in a fluffy burrito fashion or disappear in an old hoodie three sizes too big for me despite the fact that it’s still August.

The clock tells me that creamy smell drifting upstairs is someone starting an early dinner, and I hear Coldplay’s A Rush Of Blood To The Head playing in the kitchen, the sound rising up through the floor and soaking into the carpet.

I debate going downstairs for ice cream all of a sudden, but then I remember that I’m chilly and dinner will be ready soon. I remember why we’re having dinner slightly earlier than usual too and know Inkheart will have to wait.

The first memory I have of watching the Olympics was a long time ago. All of us in the family don’t watch that much TV, cause honestly, each of us likes different things and prefers to watch them on Netflix on our own time rather than when they air on TV, and even then movies are preferred. However, we make a giant exception for the Olympics. Watching the games has always been an event in itself at our house. We’d finish dinner as fast as we could and run down to the media room in the basement with our chosen TV snacks. The first memory I have of this included a big queen-sized air mattress set up on the floor between the long couch and the TV (because I mean normal chairs and couches are boring for such special events), and my sisters and I brought down pillows and blankets like we were having a giant sleepover. We were going to be sitting there for a while anyway, might as well be comfortable, right?

Mom and Dad would follow us downstairs and sit on the couch behind us as the three of us (J was a baby and already asleep at the time) fought for space on the air mattress, reminding us to keep quieter when our giggling and blanket-stealing festivities grew louder than the Olympic commentary. We tried staying awake as long as we could to watch the gymnastics and beach volleyball in the summer, or ice skating in the winter, and we usually managed it, dragging ourselves upstairs to bed half asleep later.

The Olympic weeks were always like that, and still are. Tonight we finish up dinner early and find a seat in front of the TV, bringing snacks or desserts, and Bella cowers at our feet as the thunder still rumbles off in the distance through the mountains. I get the ice cream I wanted earlier (with chocolate chips and honey), and continue working on the cupcake puzzle that is a work in progress on the table by the back of the room whenever there’s a commercial break. J sits on the floor closer to the TV, having no idea her older sisters preferred the floor too when they were younger. We try to watch all the sports that come on, and always pick an American to cheer for, and when there isn’t one we pick the athlete with the uniform colors we like the most. This year the USA women’s gymnastics team was wearing glittery leotards and we gave a round of applause for that before they even started competing.

We repeat the really dramatic lines from shampoo commercials amid shouts of “Pass the popcorn!” and I try to keep my ice cream bowl out of everyone’s reach. At some point one commercial break is the cue for everyone to go change into pjs and then as the night gets even later a few of the girls disappear into their rooms saying “Call me when the swimming is back on!” or “Let me know if there’s more gymnastics!”

Now that we’re a little older we can recognize some of the athletes from four years earlier, and I’m stunned that it was four years ago. I remember being younger and having my jaw-drop when my parents said that the gymnastics wouldn’t be back for four years, thinking it was an eternity. And then four years pass, but now I can count the years back and think, How can it be time again already? I can remember it, so it can’t have been long enough yet. Or at least that’s what it seems like. I suppose I should be glad that now my memory can span longer than four years.

I find them in their rooms when the gymnastics or the swimming comes back on and we sit on the couches at quarter to midnight and try not to bite our nails as they compete on the balance beam or the gold medal for swimming comes down to mere hundredths of a second. There’s usually one or two more shampoo or makeup commercials and we do dramatic hair flips and quote their lines back at the TV until we’re giggling again and turn the TV off to come back again tomorrow.

These rainy days have been good.

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