You guys, this day was so I don’t even know what that I can’t come up with a first sentence.
So I gave you that one.
It started with me having to run interference on Facebook posts. My sister, who often gets caught up in what she thinks is a good idea without realizing it could, um, totally hijack someone else’s day, posted on Facebook about how I was getting these governor’s awards at this luncheon. She posted my name. She posted a weblink to the Thing.
Nooo. What are you doing?!
And then one of my best friends, who is also Facebook friends with her, reposted it.
Oh, come on, no!
And then my aunt.
No no no no no!
Yelling that. Aloud in my kitchen.
So then I had to text all of them and tell them that I really appreciated their support but that I had deliberately not advertised this and could they please take down the Facebook posts? Because now literally 2,000 people know and I’m going to get questions I don’t want to answer. There are a lot of implications – strangers knowing too much, family and friends with whom I didn’t share the information asking too much, work possibly seeing it and questioning whether it was okay for me to lobby for a law while being professionally involved with my company.
Take it down, please. Now.
They did, fortunately, but I wound up crying. It was 9am and I was already on emotional overload. I was getting two governor’s awards for my victims’ advocacy work. I was giving a speech. Once it was a five-minute speech. Then I was told three minutes. Then I was told between three and five minutes, so I sort of merged the two, made it a Best Of and had Sam edit it. Which meant switching some things around a little and recalibrating. Fine. I can do those things. But the message of the speech… the impact of a stalker, the need for victim notification of prisoner release in cases of misdemeanor offense, the long-term effects of being a crime victim, the need for people who dedicate themselves to helping… it was heavy. My parents were coming. They would hear this speech and likely be set on edge and maybe even upset by it. Rick would be there. Or not, depending on his meeting.
An hour before the event began, my parents called to tell me they were stuck in bad traffic from an accident exactly nowhere near where they needed to be. I wasn’t sure they would make it in time to hear my speech, which would, of course, upset them. Then, sitting in my car in the parking lot outside the luncheon site, I drizzled a not insignificant amount of red nail polish on my blue spring coat.
So things were off to a great start.
My parents did make it in time. Somehow. So did Rick. He slipped in a little late and sat in the back, instead of at the table with us, the group of people receiving an award for the work we did. He did that work, really. But he came over after my speech, tapped me on the shoulder and said he was sitting elsewhere so he could slip out to tend to other professional obligations when he had to.
Seeing him felt sad. And good. And made me miss him. And made me hope. And felt awkward.
But I was glad he made it to get his award. And to hear my speech and see me in my really nice dress and heels with my hair up. He likes that look, and I’m a big believer in the lingering image.
I think my speech went well, but to be honest, I’ve blocked out parts of it. I wondered afterward if I had really said everything. I had written it all out, then rehearsed it so I would know it well enough not to have to read it word for word. But a whole section is missing from my memory.
The other speakers had lived through experiences so much worse than my own. I try not to qualify it that way. I try not to invalidate my experience vis-a-vis someone else’s, but when you’re speaking after a woman whose husband was killed and before a woman whose husband beat her and then murdered her two young children, you do feel like you’re unfairly spotlighted.
When the time came to give me my individual award, I looked toward the back of the room and saw Rick standing there in the doorway with the senator. He was backlit from the windows and surrounded by white marble. It was like he was glowing. I felt a pang. A few minutes later, when they announced our group award, I avoided looking at him but couldn’t help noticing the grin on his face. He deserved this, and he deserved to be proud. I was proud of him, too.
After that, he and the senator came and sat at our table, where my parents had joined us because our group was so scattered throughout the room. He wound up talking to my parents for a while. I have no idea what they talked about; several people had come up to me and I was justifiably distracted. And somewhat willfully ingoring his presence. Not because I didn’t want him there, but because I didn’t trust myself to act like there had never been anything between us.
After we left and I led my parents back to my house, I checked my phone and saw I’d missed a call. From the university. I returned it.
They offered me the job. Maximum salary allowed, title I wanted. I start May 1.
As promised, I texted Rick to let him know. His response: “Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! CONGRATS! You’ve had a very big day, if I do say so myself.”
It was a big day. A big, difficult, surreal, emotional on every level day. So much so that I don’t think it’s registered.
My mother wanted to frame my awards and hang them. In my bedroom.
No no no no no.