At the age of ten, I discovered there was another way of intermingling with my imaginary friends, and that was through writing. A new world was suddenly opened to me where I can create and bring things to life on paper. Because of my hearing impairment, my overall understanding of grammar was a bit lacking to say the least, and I knew this. And because of this, I kept whatever I wrote hidden away. I wasn’t ready to share with the world.
In the meantime, I struggled with insecurities, and with the belief that I was inferior to the other kids. I felt I wasn’t good enough in anything. As a result, I stayed pretty much a loner with perhaps one or two good friends.
Later on in the same school year, one of the school’s teachers, Mr. Hathaway, announced that the school was going to compete in its first (and only) track meet with other private schools in the area. I signed up for three events: 100 yard dash, 200 yard dash, and 400 yard relay.
I’ll need to clarify that my school’s sport program when compared to the area public schools was more intramural at best; especially given the fact that my entire school population had only seventy students in all (grades Kindergarten through 12th)! And because of the small size, most of our sports were played with co-ed teams.
You get the idea.
I was excited, and I was also nervous. I’ve never done track before. We had no coach, or any training. I wondered just how bad I was going to be.
The track meet was held on a warm spring day at another private school (almost as small as my school); the school’s parking lot was converted into a track. For my first event, the 100 yard dash, I found myself competing against girls who were two and three years older than me, but age or size didn’t matter as I flew past them and finished in 1st place. The same thing happened in the next event, the 200 yard dash, where I again finished in 1st place. In my last event, 400 yard relay, I was put in as the last runner, and as a team, we placed 2nd.
I never thought that running and competing could be so much fun.
Summer came and my parents placed me in a summer day camp which was sponsored by one of the local public schools. None of the kids from my school were there, but that really didn’t bother me. The kids that were there were from other public schools, ages that ranged from five all the way up to sixteen. I kept to myself as always while occasionally conversing with a few who were close to my age. One whom I do remember was Kari Lynn Nixon. She was a few months younger than me, but I was amazed by her. She was pretty, outgoing, and popular. I can remember one particular day when she involved me in one of the activities she led: how to put on makeups.
Here I was, eleven years old at the time, a tomboy learning how to apply lipstick and blush to my sweaty and dirty face. I must have been a comical sight when I got home later that day.
I remember one specific day over any others though. It was late morning when one of the camp leaders announced that there was going to be a race. Anyone who was interested was to come to the baseball field and stand in a line next to the home base. I didn’t think. I just went. As soon as I stood in that line with at least twenty other kids, doubts filled my mind and butterflies jumped in my stomach.
What was I doing?
Most of these kids were athletes. A few of whom I actually knew were star baseball and softball athletes. What kind of chance would I have against them? A girl like me who went to a small private school against these other kids who went to schools that were at least ten times larger.
I must be insane.
I seriously considered stepping out and away from the line, but that would mean the entire camp would see me chickening out. There had to have been about one hundred kids sitting in the bleachers behind me.
I had no choice, but to compete.
Must of the race was a blur to me. I remember running as fast as I could. I remember this one boy athlete racing right along beside me. Then I remember seeing the home base ahead of me as we rounded the last section of the field. I could hear the kids cheering in the bleachers. I can remember my legs feeling like rubbery leads. You know what was amazing about that race?
I finished first.
I finally found something that I was good at. Something that apparently I was better than many of the kids from the local public schools.
It all felt quite surreal. I never had so many people cheering for me. Congratulating me.
It felt good.
I almost felt…normal.
Run With the Wind
Cool breeze sweeping by
the landscape all but a blur
my feet take me home