Oh, oh, and oh! once again. What a lovely past few weeks - and what an inspiring past few days. And what an incredible night. The sound of my name, coming across the audience. The way my stomach - fwoosshh - swept out from me, falling beneath the floor which somehow I seemed to be floating above, as my heart, clearly in response to this new zero gravity feeling rose up in to my throat. My hands flew to my face and I became acutely aware of the shouts, screams, hollers, and many clapping, slapping, squeezing hands of my Theatre department. Searching wildly for my Professor's eyes, and my roomates' eyes, someone to look at me and tell me without words - for I could not hear them if they'd been spoken, such was the ruckus around me - that I hadn't imagined it.
"Stand up! You have to go onstage!" and then "Oh! Oh my God!" and instead of standing I dip my head briefly between my knees and only then push myself up, thinking thank goodness that my roomate did my hair and insisted I wear heels.
The walk to the stairs and suddenly understanding yes, yes, good God yes, my friends from school are loud - but there are other voices, too, other faces, and as I take the row of high fives and then half-trip my way up the stairs, my eyes scan and pick out faces. Faces from this summer, a boy who worked on a show with me. And the kid whose costume design I loved, and the girl whose voice makes me weep, and the two boys whose acting was technical and passionate, and the kid from the shuttle and the teachers I worked with and they're clapping, too. They're screaming my name and waving their hands and I feel the tears start to come and with shaking hands I take my folder, from the lady, bathed in stage lights, who extends it to me.
And then my Professor is hugging me and tears are in his eyes and my hand is still shaking and my God, it's really really real. And then the names keep coming - awards and honors and scholarships and competitions, my roomates and my yearmates and my beloved friends are awash in accolades, festooning our school and department in honor.
And then we are dancing, all of us, singing along and hoisting our main prize winner, a wonderful girl, high in the air. And sometimes I am in the air too - whirled and twirled and tossed by the friends I have made here, this week, these five glorious days of Festival, and they ask for a dance or if I'd like a drink and tell me how pleased they are someone they knew has won, has been recognized. And the girls from school hold my hands and cry and offer to give me their tips until I have the last little bit of money I'll need, and the boys sling their arms around my shoulders or hoist me in the air and proudly spin me around, as though I am the most wonderful thing they've ever seen and my heart squeezes almost as tightly as my hand is held as I rest my head against various shoulders, trying valiantly to breathe. The Professor and the Department Head hug me and tell me they're proud, and I get light headed to think I have done something right, and the Professor kisses the top of my head and urges me back to friends, new and old.
My Boyfriend tries to make sense of my words, from hundreds of miles away, and my sisters give their praises and my big brother cheers from the other end of the phone. Mum tries to take it all in.
And then I'm dancing again, and singing again, and the lights are beautiful and the winter night air is sharp and stinging and cold and I run out in to it, like a child, to swirl around in the snow and catch flakes on my tongue. The music echoes in my heart and my friends' faces (new & old) swirl into a blur before my teary eyes as I climb the stairs to bed, the warm pressure of half a dozen goodbye-hugs pressed against me.
I am happy. And so lucky. And I promise, dear readers, to make more sense in the morning - for the sun will be rising soon and while I can, I must steal just a few hours rest.