Tall, high-heeled black boots really start to hurt when you wear them all day and into the evening. This shall come as no surprise to all you fashionistas who already own a pair, but I just got my first pair of tall black boots and I have learned this lesson the hard way. My good friend Maria was in town the other day, and we went to my favorite used clothing store - Rags Reborn - where we got some really sweet deals, including my new pair of boots.
I wore the boots all day because, in addition to my usual 8-hour work day, I had a function this evening and I wanted to sport my new boots (as well as a new coral-colored wool skirt and black cashmere sweater, also from Rags Reborn) to the event. The event I went to was the Mix 96.5 2009 Women's Expo. A few days ago I wasn't planning on going to this - didn't even really know it was happening - but then I got a phone call, and that is how I ended up buying a new outfit at my favorite shop and standing in front of a crowd of women holding a bouquet of flowers.
A few days ago I got a call from Tammy at WOXL. She called me at work, and I took the call assuming it was work-related. I talk to the press pretty regularly in my job, and thought it had to do with some upcoming meeting or a document we have out for public comment. Turns out Tammy was calling because Brian Turner, my husband, had nominated me as one of "10 Women You Should Know in Western North Carolina". She said he had said some really great things about me, and they had decided he was right. I smiled, took down the information for tonight's event, and silently figured that everyone who was nominated won. Brian and I joked that it was "a major award", like the leg lamp in A Christmas Story.
After a long day at work, a rushed dinner of black bean and corn quesadillas, and a quick glance in the mirror to freshen up, I headed downtown, with Brian and Dora following a few minutes behind me. The reception was held in the ballroom of the Haywood Park Hotel, a downtown hotel I've never been in. The ballroom was full of vendors, and full of women wandering around with black gift bags and red roses. I actually saw someone I knew - a friend from my postpartum group - but I was otherwise just wandering around waiting for Brian, too hot in my black coat and handknit scarf, wondering why I had grabbed the diaper bag, my purse, and both of our phones.
Soon there was an announcement asking that the top 10 women come to the front of the room. Brian and Dora walked in just in time, and Dora ran over to me right away. I saw that the Mayor of Asheville, Terry Bellamy, was amongst the group of 10 women. I said hello to the Mayor, who I have the pleasure of knowing through my job, and introduced Dora to her. We were told what order to stand in at the side of the stage, and the recognition ceremony began.
I was second-to-last in line, and as I listened to the nomination forms for the other ladies read, I began to wonder how on earth I had ended up being chosen to be part of this group. Here I stood with a woman who is Asheville's second female mayor, the first African-American Mayor of Asheville, the youngest Mayor in the state of North Carolina. There were two nurses, a doula, a crisis hotline counselor, a breast cancer survivor. Dora proceeded to jump down from my arms and run around, just the kind of wild-toddler behavior you always think your kid will never do, until you actually have a kid. I cringed as she ripped apart a rose, scattering petals across the black carpet.
Soon it was my turn to stand at the front as my nomination form was read, Brian snapping pictures, Dora rolling around on the floor in front of me, everyone smiling at us. I am not the best at being in the spotlight, but I did my best to smile and listen as Brian's words about me were read aloud. He talked about my work, my cooking, my recycling, my biodiesel car. The address of my blog was announced. The pets, the little house in West Asheville, Dora. All those facts about my little life, read to a room full of people. It was very humbling to stand there amongst all of those women doing incredible things, being recognized for just being me.
As the ceremony ended, Tammy from the radio station shook my hand, hugged me, and congratulated me. I apologized for my wild toddler and she smiled and said, "she's a part of who you are, so I think it was perfect". Strangers congratulated me as I made my way back to Brian, a woman hugged Dora and said she was just precious. It was all a little surreal, and also really fun and exciting, too. Brian dashed off to rehearsal and I walked back to my car with Dora holding my hand, enjoying the glow of a cool Asheville downtown evening and my 15 minutes of fame.
I came home, took off my boots, and settled my girl into bed - hugging her close and telling her I love her, making her say it back to me again and again. I thought about the other women tonight, wondering again how I ended up in that group of life-savers and survivors. I guess maybe I ended up there because I had a little something different, because I represented working mothers in their 30s, because something about my story caught someone's eye. Maybe I ended up there because they only got 9 other nominations so they had to pick me. It was wonderful to be recognized publicly, to have strangers appreciate what I do, to hold my bouquet of flowers at the front of the room. But what was even more wonderful was to know that all of that really started right here - in my home, my heart, my marriage, my family. It was wonderful to hear, in an ever-so-public way, that my husband loves and appreciates and admires what I do, enough to tell other people about it. That is more lovely than the bouquet of flowers or the flashing lights or the 15 minutes of fame. To know that what I do and who I am has meaning for my family - that is a true gift, a major award, an absolute honor, and more than worth the pain of a day in black high heel boots.