11 April 2008

My Brush with Torchness

Wednesday, the Olympic torch made its way through San Francisco, its route changed owing to protests that accompanied it in London and Paris.

The protests center around China's treatment of Tibet and its people. While it is a contentious issue, it is sad that the Olympic spirit should have to be tarnished in this way. (I do not blame the protesters. I blame China.)

The point of my blog today is to remember another time when the torch made its way through the San Francisco Bay Area, to remember a humble boy and his brush with torchness.

That boy (pictured, right) is me -- 24, thinner, cuter, and with substantially more hair.

I was going through a really bad time in my life, the details of which too boring now to retell. However, things perked up when I found out the torch bearer was going to run mere feet from my house in Foster City, just south of San Francisco.

I made a point of getting out there to see the torch go by. All I knew was it was going to pass along the route. I had no idea ahead of time that there was going to be a runner change right there. So, when I arrived, I saw the next runner (pictured, left). We were told we could not approach him, although security was not as tight then as I am sure it is now.

Not letting rules stand in my way, I walked up to him, introduced myself and asked if it was alright to have a photograph taken of me holding the torch. He said no.

Okay. "Could I have a photograph of me standing next to you holding the torch?" He hesitated, then agreed. Right before a friend snapped the shutter, I reached out and grabbed the torch. I mean, when would I ever have this chance again? You can see the reaction in the runner's face. There I was, with my little plastic American flag in hand, disobeying the rules, and touching the torch.

Mere seconds later, the other runner arrived, handed off the lit torch (what you see in the photograph was one of the spares) and sent the new runner along his way.

While I cannot say this was the highlight of my life (thankfully, there have been other, more wonderful things) this was pretty cool.

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