For the first time

Going through my draw of speeches, I found some from this year to the few odd palm cards from Grade 1. With immense clarity, I can still remember my quaking hands, dry throat, shaky breaths and my stomach full of butterflies -with numbers large enough to fill a forest-, before they were replaced by a mad surge of adrenaline of doing my first speech.

The beautiful thing, however, is that many years later, despite having grown to the point where public speaking is a second nature, I am still gripped by the exact same post-speech symptoms of jittery breathes, nausea, jelly legs and nervous giggles before I pull myself together at the sound of my name being called and miraculously perform my piece with feigned composure and rehearsed charisma.

I still love it just as much as the first time I did it.

Picking up stacks of palm cards or single slips and recalling the performances or other significant memories associated with them (some more deep than others), amongst the many palm cards of varies ages, I found one on refugee camps that read:

“…who is not yet able to say the words:

I… love you…”

Ah.

The first thought that came to mind: aljsdlasd-what even just, what.

Although I have always remembered that the speech existed because I went to State Finals because of it, however, I had completely forgotten about a certain event that was tied with this line in particular. The thought came as a shock, it was…

· y · o · u ·

You see, for me, some of the most satisfying parts of speeches are: the post-presentation jitters; a room full of people who are so enraptured by your words that in those 4 minutes, in their mind, it’s only you and them so they respond naturally… laughing at jokes, sitting wide eyed and dead silent at the climaxes and then giving a whole-hearted, shameless applause at the end. However, by far the most rewarding part is the spark of interest or wonder or spell-bound look that makes their eyes shine so bright, lasting for the duration of the performance and only to be broken by the sound of a room full of applause.

Splendor.

So, to deliver the full effect and just for the sake of having put so much effort into each script, I have a few golden rules in regards to speeches:

  1. No one is to read the script before my presentation.
  2. No one is to hear it in its full form before my presentation.

However, going back to the palm card I found before that read: “…who is not yet able to say the words: I… love you…“, this particular speech was the only one where BOTH of the golden rules were broken..

…because of you.

ugh.

Dost thou recall it?

It was in the late afternoon of the day the competition was to be held. You stayed behind after school with me and we talked. It was a day of many firsts for me:

1. I mentioned topics that I had never talked about before with anyone and because of that, you did the same.. it was the first time we talked on another level.

2. I broke the first golden rule for the first time.

3. I broke the second golden rule of the first time.

4. Because of number 3, when I said: “…who is not yet able to say the words: I… love you…”, I innocently looked up from my palm cards to say that line. However, by the time I was conscious of those last three words were coming out of my mouth, I realized that as I was saying them, I was looking at your eyes and yours back at mine.

A realization hit me and I fumbled through the next two lines, not really aware of what I was reading because…

for the first time

I realized that I liked you.

And after seeing you tense at the three words -your left hand pause mid-fiddling with some leaf and a hint of conflicted feelings stir up inside your gaze before you quickly concealed it- I had a sneaking suspicion that you liked me too.

But I couldn’t get ahead of myself, with others, I would be completely certain but with you.. I’m wasn’t so sure.

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