Monday, August 29, 2011

A Picture Perfect Day

By the time I was in 1st grade, I had attended a number of primary schools across Delaware and North Carolina (I believe it was 4 or 5, which would mean that I attended one or more schools every year until our family moved to Kentucky). I was six—truthfully wishing to be seven—but I am positive I was six. Endless summer days in the North Carolina sun bleached my short, boyish-like hair and freckles splashed the brims of my cheeks. My attire consisted of shorts (or overalls), a pair of roughed-up tennis shoes and a t-shirt ready for a beating from Mother Nature. A daily invitation from the sun beckoned me to come and play (and, willing, I never let the sun down).  I would run and run and run. And if Ali, my sister, was outside (which was always very likely) we would run and run and run. Like every summer, time was always deceitful. Rolling around in the dirt, making mud pies and selling or eating the mud pies always had to stop sooner or later. And when the production line had to stop, it was a sign: school was on the horizon, and picture day was soon to follow.

Like all of my 20-30 classmates, I was going to experience picture day.  I am sure my mother probably mentally prepared me the night before, but all I could remember was the sheer terror I felt when my feet landed on the pavement and the blue car door shut behind me.

I was wearing a dress. The dress was painted with pastel green and pink flowers. The sleeves held an 80’s puff complimenting a simple, white lace accent, and a light pink sash tied around my waist to complete the grand statement: I was coming to school with style.

I began to wander toward my classroom door. It was then my pace began to slow. I came to a stop, and wiggled in my dress. I was uncomfortable. That was when my conscious was flooded with consistent and awful thoughts: What if today wasn’t really picture day? What if I am dressed up and no one else is? What if my friends don’t like my dress? My stomach began to ache and my throat quickly dried out. I was tempted to turn around to find someone (or run), but the hallway was empty. The idea of being alone terrorized me further; I was stuck in the spot where I stood. The slight glow from the classroom remained in my focus giving me little comfort. Seconds turned into minutes; it wasn’t until a parent rounded the corner with her son dressed in the height of fashion that I could will myself to move.

My lovely desk...
 Fast-forward 17 years. It is the night before my first “official” day of work, and I can’t help but relive the terror that visited me years before. I am no longer in college (hooray! I am a college graduate!), and I no longer can say I am “hunting for a job.” I guess that would put me into the category of “big girl.”

To preoccupy my fears, I packed my lunch, laid out my navy dress, organized my paperwork and started to watch a movie. The rumbling in my stomach and clenching of my throat put me on my feet again.  I began to wander around my room. I was forgetting something, but what? And then it hit me: I was missing the documents I needed to prove my citizenship. Unfortunately, my desk became the victim of a mini tornado. Destruction laid in my wake as I tore apart file after file.  Even my phone conversation with Ryan was disparaging—I needed to take my frustration out on something or someone. So I did both. After the mini storm, It took me 30minutes or so to reconnect with myself and harness my chi, but I did it!  And I eventually fell asleep. Like my first grade photo shoot, I really had nothing to fear about my first day of work. It was wonderful (minus the traffic I had to wait in).  Hopefully, day two will be even better.

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