January 28, 2010

A year ago last year ...

I felt good about myself. And it wasn't because I won swimsuit at Miss America but it was something much bigger and much more joyful than that.

Last night I talked to Ellen Carrington, Miss TN 2008, and really just simply one of my favorites of all time. We talked about how wretched filming the Miss America reality show was but if we hadn't done been involved with it we wouldn't have been nearly as close as we all were last year. Which leads me to my point ...

Last year at Miss America I competed in Swimsuit and Evening Gown on this night, Thursday, the final night of preliminary competition. I had worked incredibly hard to get fit ("Miss America fit"). Not skinny, but fit. When I got to Miss America I felt like I could take down a chick if I needed to.

Either way, that night, I walked backstage after "Baby Wiping" all of the body glue off of myself in order to avoid gown stick-age and it was SILENT. I mean, if you had been backstage before that it was hopping. Girls flipping their hair. Lip gloss flying. But glue spraying. Lats minute advice being given. But everyone was staring at the tv monitor. Ashley Wheeler, Miss Vermont, was singing God Bless America a cappella and no one could avert their eyes. Not even the stage hands (I mean, they're entertained by the likes of CHER! AND GAGA!). It was unbelievable.

So, after competition Art McMaster and Sam Haskell (the men's force behind Miss America, president and CEO's) came up on stage and spoke for, erm, a long time. Case and point: Cullen Jones, the Olympic medalist swimmer, was one of our judges. After the first five minutes of them speaking he packed his laptop up. Put it under his table. Went into his bag and dragged out a huge back of chips and just started vegging. We were all jealous of him. No heels, no sweating, and eating chips.

Naturally I just started chatting with Miss NC, Amanda, and all of a sudden I heard "YORK" called out for Swimsuit. After a supremely quick process of elimination I realized I was the only one there that had a state name ending in York and proceeded to flail my arms. All of that imagining Katie Stam (who ultimately became Miss America, but who had done so well ont he reality show) racing me to the finish line in spinning had paid off. I mean, it's all about envisioning it, right?

Caption: "I hope you just said my name. Otherwise this could get really embarrassing, really fast."

I found my family and got a wee-tad excited!

This is when I saw the Miss New York Board!

But here's the good part I mentioned earlier ... Ashley Wheeler, one of my dearest friends, in and outside of pageantry, was announced the talent winner that evening. Check out the faces behind us on this link ... that's how excited I was standing in front of her. Watching her realize a dream. This is what we did instead of waving to the audience the whole time. And as she reminded me in an email this morning, I had just said (and you can see I am welling up in tears), "Ashley, oh my gosh, you just won talent at MISS AMERICA!"

That night when I got to visitation my brother said that on stage I was visibly more excited about her win than mine. And when I thought about it, it was true. That's why I was so happy that night. Of course I was excited about my win. But my happiness came from walking down the Miss America runway, preliminary awards in hand, with one of my best friends.

Now that's a once in a lifetime experience.

PS: BIG congratulations to Alyse, Miss NY, and preliminary ss winner at Miss A last night!

No comments: