Monday, February 12, 2007

Hope


It was the beginning of the school year and elections were being held for sixth grade class president. I can’t remember what inspired me to run. I was far from the most popular kid and a bit shy. To be honest I was flat-chested, fair-skinned and skinny. I had not yet grown into my nose. I would forget to apply deodorant some mornings and should I be teased, it often was because I was of African decent and my name was hard to pronounce. I was certainly not the ideal candidate. Some how though, I thought I could do it.

I campaigned for only one day, telling my friends in secret that I intended on making the speech and to remember to root for me the next day during homeroom. I marvel now at the support of my friends. Although, I am not entirely sure it was genuine support but them in part daring me to speak before class. I remember writing my speech over a course of two days and practicing, paper in one hand, the other in the air as I recited in front of the mirror. I still remember the texture of the wide-ruled notebook paper in my hand, Braille-like indentations on the back where on the front I had passionately written from heart in black ink. Honor and integrity, cooperation amongst middle-schoolers, I have no honest recollection of the speech’s content however I am sure I would have included such. I do recall being aware that I had to get my classmates to believe in me and to do so I had to get them excited. Picture a shy 11 year old trying to be Hillary Clinton.
The night before elections I could hardly sleep. I had ironed my school uniform of plaid shorts and a white cotton blouse and laid them out in the den. Periodically through out the night I would jump out of bed and run to the full length mirror. Arms extended I would recite pieces of my speech and run back to bed, jump out of bed moments later and run to recite it again. The next morning when it came my turn to speak a feeling in my chest arose, a mix of pride and complete terror. But I said I was going to do it and by golly…I was going to do it. I began to read the words from my paper extending my hand just as rehearsed failing to make eye contact with the crowd, staring at the sheet in my hand practically begging it not to shake so obviously. Yet, when I did look out my eyes met eager faces. And when I asked for a response the crowd responded, “yes!”and “amen!”. I would like to think I was suggesting using the revenue from our school lunches to fund class trips and that I could use the word “revenue” in a sentence.

When I finished the crowd cheered and I was voted class president. I might have still been flat-chested but I’d gotten a lot cooler that year. I won more than the competition but the sentiment that despite all logic, if given the opportunity I could do anything. She’d be so proud of me, the 11 year old skinny and shy. But I envy her for then hope was abundant. I turn over the college-ruled sheet of notebook paper in which this was written and feel its Braille-like indentations. And with what hope I have left I try to reach her, knowing she’ll have hope to spare.
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3 comments:

  1. renee8:20 PM

    That was touching, girl. Simply touching. Your writing is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Trust you to be channeling Barack at a young age.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is a warming story for a overcast day. Thank you for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete

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