Dammitall! That was hard!!!!

I've been doing speeches since I was five and I always thought I was cool. Mind you, it's been a long time since the point where I was doing them regularly, but I've given at least three or four this year. Reading poetry in a coffee house? No sweat.

Sweat. Cold, clammy sweat and a twitching in that one foot I didn't keep firmly planted like it was going to shake right off the vibration was so hot.

I forgot every grace of public speaking in fifteen seconds and never varied my tone and never looked up from the crumpled bubble-jet printout in my hands.

I thought about my other friend who got up there and her perfect cool, her nonchalance and her projection of comfort. And realize she's someone else up there when she's reading. Me. I never read something I gave a shit about before. Physics results and ramblings about the injustice of racism, that's easy. But this wasn't just something I'd made up to fit an assignment or a theme. For once, it wasn't even for money or a grade; maybe it should have been easier.

She turned into another person who could pretend what she'd written didn't matter - just another character in her pantheon of clowns. I was still me -- more me than I'd ever been in public before.