The Question: What trophies, medals, awards, and certificates have you earned throughout your life? How many have you kept?
I'm choosing not to recollect (right now) all the trophies, medals, awards, and certificates that I have earned in my illustrious existence as a human being (ha!) but rather, detail and share one memory of an award that I have never forgotten.
Where I attended elementary school, 6th grade was the end of the road and this was June, 1977—the last week of school with it's good-byes, parties and award ceremonies. Mrs. Colson was my teacher and the other two 6th-grade classes had filed into our room, where desks were pushed to the side so we could all sit on the floor. The teachers (including the P.E. and music teacher and the librarian) were taking turns announcing the award recipients. I don't remember most of the awards—but they were appellations like "Most athletic girl/boy", "Funniest boy/girl" and "Best student girl/boy". I do remember that these awards were nominated and voted on by fellow students and that I was silently praying that I wouldn't get an embarrassing one that would confirm and solidify my 12-year old "I'm not popular and can never hope to be popular" fears. Such an award would be "Best speller" or public recognition for the neatest desk. As I recall, this event was drawing to a close and most of the awards, especially the most desirable ones had been given out, so my angst was increasing. This is when they announced the Girl With Coolest Hair and called up Kim, a pretty Asian girl with LONG, thick hair—all the way down her back. This made total sense. She had REALLY COOL hair—but then, in what can only be understood as a shocking move, they called my name. Cool hair? Me? I stood up surprised and walked to the front of the room, then returned to my spot on the carpet to let it all sink in. I wondered if maybe I didn't get any votes at all and the teachers scrambled to find something that might apply to me—it is super interesting how quickly we question, doubt and then discredit recognition isn't it? Afterwards, I remember a handful of fellow students' confirming words, "I knew you would get that one—I voted for you!" The fascinating thing is how much this one award meant to me. I was so excited to show my family, and I recall almost immediately feeling better about myself. It was from that day on that I started paying attention to my hair. I had always been a bit of a tomboy with short, tousled hair, but I began noticing hair everywhere and I wanted to live up to my award. I had always gone to a lady's home—most likely someone from church—to get hair cuts, in her basement, but before school started the next fall, I did chores for my Mom so that I could earn enough money get a haircut at the salon in the mall. In 1976, Dorothy Hammill had won the figure skating gold medal in the Olympics and her "wedge" hair style was all the rage. I wanted one. Seventh grade meant Junior High and that felt like a pretty big deal — a new school, multiple teachers, more kids ... scary! But, this new haircut, which cost me $20 (a LOT) was worth it. I liked it and other kids liked it. It was the first time in my life that I remember feeling kind of grown up and stylish. Like most pre-teens, I had plenty of insecurities, but I knew I had cool hair!
The braces is another story altogether!
Note: You can read this post to learn more about the #52Stories challenge and my goal in 2017 to participate.