I spent the day with 500 Grade 9 students.
I was asked by my awesome friend to host an event to encourage Teen Volunteering and it was wild. The energy of 500 Grade 9 students should be bottled and sold in dark taverns. They had such great ideas, and angst, and honesty.
I knew it would be like this. And I was terrified.
I figured they’d want me to be ‘cool’.
I didn’t know how to be cool around Grade 9’s when I was a Grade 9.
I would describe my Grade 9 experience like riding a ferris wheel. You are excited to get on, but once it gets going, you are half bored and half afraid, and you only want to get off when you are at the top and when you can get off you really don’t want to. And if anyone ever brings up ferris wheels, you always think fondly because you are picturing a picture of a ferris wheel. Not dangling feet and loss of control.
But trying to write something for this crowd was daunting. And to be honest, I have spent the last two weeks learning Shakespeare monologues, so the fact that I was able to put something together that wasn’t a sonnet or in reference to the volunteering history of the local apothecary meant that I was ahead out of the gate. But it gave me a bit of a belly ache. When I woke up this morning, I was even light headed.
Like when I have to write something important, learn lines or stand for a long time.
The third doesn’t seem to belong, but I have a history of getting woozy when standing for long periods of time. At least I did in Grade 9.
Coincidence? I think not.
I am referring to the time that I nearly passed out when we were visiting the Stations of the Cross. I contemplated telling my mother that I could no longer be Catholic due to health reasons, but decided against it when I noted that myself and a few of my school chums had snuck behind the church to share one Players Light rollie and 2 cans of RC Cola right before the service. Catholicism had not been the cause of my dizzy spell that day, and in retrospect, I am glad that I didn’t bring that argument to the table. If a fainting spell during church service would be a medical cause to stay away from organized religion, my mother would also have to keep me from jumping castles, docked boats and boiled eggs, which all had a tendency to make me woozy in that delicate year.
I sometimes work myself into a stress tizzy. And it’s silly because it is usually around things that I am excited about. At auditions for roles I am drooling over. Before my favorite band plays at a concert. When I wake up on my Birthday. Before a movie starts as I lean over to the person next to me and tell them to have fun, and really hope that we do because I picked the movie. When I go to Sephora. When I hear my nephews laughing in the background on the telephone.
I have to remind myself that the feeling is excitement.
I tried to write and tried to write and in the end, didn’t really write at all. I remembered that when I was in Grade 9, I didn’t find many adults cool. There were adults I liked, and adults I trusted, but I didn’t find many of them particularly funny and they certainly weren’t cool. So I just did what I was supposed to do. I talked to them about volunteering and introduced people who were cool and knew more about it than I did.
And I learned alot.
And I think they thought I was nice. And that was good enough for me.
Yes. That feeling is excitement.
I wasn’t allergic to Catholicism. Or boiled eggs. Maybe I was just in Grade 9 and really, really excited.*
* I fainted the summer after Grade 9 at The Brigus Blueberry Festival after jumping in the jumping castle. Although it was a riveting experience, the cause was dismissed as excitement and attributed to low iron levels by a trusted physician. Anemia, not excitement. I took cod liver oil pills and my ears burned.