I was awake for 23 hours yesterday, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
It was my last day in Boston at the 106 ALA Midwinter Meeting, and it was THE day: the day of the Youth Media Awards. A year’s worth of work distilled to a moment in time.
I got up at 5 to get ready, check out of my hotel and be at the Convention Center for our 6:20 Morris Committee photo. I can tell you now that we had called our winner Saturday afternoon, but other committees called that morning and were very excited. We were a little more subdued.
After a visit to Starbucks we went to the ballroom, where the giant line had started forming. I can’t deny that I felt a little smug that I didn’t have to line up. Committee members get reserved seating at the front.
Oh, but there was a buzz in the air. Such excitement and anticipation. Just as things got started, the emotion of it all got to me and got a little teary-eyed. Then, I puled myself together as the first announcements began.
When our award came up, you cold feel the nine of us tense up. Would people like our decision? As the names of our five finalists were read, I gauged the audience reaction on the applause-o-meter in my head. And the roar of the audience when it was announced was a huge relief.It was amazing to see my name up there alongside the names of people I have come to consider friends.
The awards ended and about an hour later, we had round 2: The Morris and YA nonfiction awards ceremony. We moseyed over to that room, so far away it felt like we should leave a trail of breadcrumbs, to get things set up.
Here is the unexpected thing. I knew the job of my committee was to pick the best YA debuts published in 2015. I knew this was important in the careers of these young writers. I didn’t realize the emotional impact t would have on all of the.
Four of the five finalists were present. Kelly Loy Gilbert is at the stage in her pregnancy when she is not allowed to fly, so she appeared by video. Ana-Marie McLemore was the first speaker up and the honesty and self-reflection she put into the few minutes of her speech had me teary-eyed. Stephanie Oakes went next and by then, there were full on tears. Leah Gilbert started off with humor, as she does in her book, then got me weepy again. By the time Becky Albertalli, got up, I felt as though I’d been through an emotional wringer.
The publishers had arranged a “champagne and canapés” party for the committee and the authors, because, although we’d spent months reading and taking their books apart, we hadn’t really met them. It was wonderful because, again, they all shared how much this genuinely meant to them.
From there, I was off to the airport. I got there early, but I was so emotionally drained by that time, I was happy to sit for a while and just watch people. Our flight boarded on time. When I was finally seated and ready to just reflect on the wonder and emotion of the day, the fight attendant announced that because of some soccer person (who I think might have been on our flight) every passenger over the age of 21 could get a free drink. The icing on the cake.
I arrived home around one this morning and will go pick Lucy up shortly. I go back to work tomorrow. My life is returning to its normal rhythm and hum, but the emotion and excitement of the last few days will stay with me forever.