Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl – Age 15
Race Day–it’s not a national holiday. Not even a state holiday. It was an event that was made up to promote race unity in my home county, complete with an essay contest that I’d read about in the local newspaper. I entered and I won.
It was one of my first writing awards outside of those given by my teachers whose accolades I considered subjective. They liked me; I might have been one of a handful of students who actually liked what they were teaching–reading and writing–and was kind of good at it. Of course I would be their Writer of the Month selection. Tragedy of puberty: never being convinced of your worth.
Anyway, the Race Day essay also came with a cash award. I don’t remember how much, but it bought me something I could use to take to ISSP, the four week residential Intensive Summer Science Program held on the campus of Delaware State University. Maybe some new sandals or a shirt. Not much but something.
The Sunday after my award came in the mail–we never made it to the festival and awards ceremony on Legislative Mall–Mommy announced it at dinner. Sunday dinners were always served on a tablecloth, with the matching plates, those green crystal cut glasses, and all the food in pretty dishes. It was hot; the breeze from the slightly opened front door and windows barely handling it, and I had to stand at my seat and read my essay.
Daddy looked at me like I was a specimen. My sisters nudged, snickered, and clapped appropriately. I was nervous but certain of my words. And…
I cannot find the words I wrote. I’ve completely demolished my studio going through boxes of papers, marked as early as 1985. Bleh.
So my latest Race Day was last Sunday–my first marathon! Much like that Race Day when I was 15, I was a ball of nerves but certain of myself. My sisters clapped appropriately; my mom posted it on Facebook, and my dad seems unsurprised. Luck of adulthood: understanding your parents and how they’re always convinced of your worth even when you aren’t.