My little sister’s Homecoming is tomorrow, and the entire affair has me feeling nostalgic. About three years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I was crowned Homecoming Queen. I wanted to share the story with you all.

When I was a freshman in high school I wore mostly dark colored clothing, I had angry looking red hair, and to top it all off I had a nose ring. So you could say I was right in the middle of my “Mom, it’s not a phase!” phase.

For the most part, I let my image speak for myself. I was pretty quiet, and definitely a little nervous about being my usual goofy self for fear of being judged.

A lot changed after I joined the marching band.

Before you even start with me about how marching band is for nerds, I’ll have you know that marching band was “the thing” at my school. We had over 250 members my freshman year. (For those of you wondering, I played the clarinet. C-Nets hoo-haha!)

clarinet, instrument, and music image Image by Catarina Ballerina

When I was in the band I met my squad leader, A. She really helped bring me out of my shell. She would always talk to my friend, D and I and entertain all of our jokes. She really made us feel included and like we were a part of something special.

That year, A got onto the Homecoming Court. I remember voting for her and trying to convince all my friends to vote for her as well.

That Friday I was nervous with anticipation for A. When they called the name of the Homecoming Queen, I was shocked that it wasn’t her. An overwhelming feeling of disappointment came over me. I was devastated for her.

When she came back to march with the band after the queen had been crowned I apologized to her, and told her I felt bad she didn’t win. She started chuckling and said, “It’s not about being crowned queen. It’s about representing a place you love. I’m thankful I was able to do that this week.”

As the years went on, I found myself feeling more comfortable at my school. I was still in Marching Band but I decided to join a few clubs and other sports. I met so many underclassmen and I wanted to make them feel as welcomed at our school as A had made me feel. I wanted everyone to feel like they could be themselves.

So when Homecoming week of my senior year was just around the corner and they were asking for Homecoming Court applications, I could hear A’s voice in the back of my head telling me, “It’s about representing a place you love.” I was nearly bursting at the seams with how much I had grown to love our school and the people there, so I decided to apply.

On the Friday they announced Homecoming Court, I remember sitting in my sixth hour Health class shaking. I was so nervous for some reason, I just really wanted to represent our school just as A had.

When they finally called my name on the over-com I was overjoyed! I breathed the deepest sigh relief! After school, I made my way up to Mrs. L’s classroom to get my Homecoming Court sash and crown. Nothing could wipe the huge grin off my face.

Image by Catarina Ballerina Image by Catarina Ballerina

Throughout the week we got to wear our crowns and sashes to school, dress up in fancy clothing, and we even got our pictures taken for the local newspaper!

Image by Catarina Ballerina

Though all of this stuff was nice, what was even more amazing to me were the people that were coming up to me. I mean, people I hadn’t spoken to in years were coming up to me. They were saying things like, “Remember when we were in the play together in middle school? I was the only sixth grader and you made me feel included!” or the, “I know we haven’t spoken to each other in awhile, but you really helped me through some things Sophomore year.” and so many more. Hearing all of those stories about how they remembered me helping them meant so much to me. It still makes me feel so incredibly grateful and humble. I’m so happy I was able to help so many people over the years. Even if it was just a smile on a bad day.

Well, that Friday was the Homecoming game where the king and queen were going to be crowned. I remembered being very nervous that day, but it was a different kind of nervous. It was more of a nervous excitement. Despite this feeling, I didn’t think I was going to win. There were many very popular girls on court, some of them cheerleaders, some of them in almost every school club, and some of them simply just having a lot of friends. I was okay with not winning though, I was content with just having represented my fellow students for a week. I was elated over all of the people who had shared their stories with me about how I helped them.

So as I walked up the field, in between the color guard of our marching band, their flags raising as we passed them, I was smiling ear-to-ear. It had been an amazing week, and I felt so much love and joy in my heart.

Image by Catarina Ballerina

“Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 Homecoming king and queen are J and-”

The sound of overwhelming applause cut out the announcer’s voice and there was a moment of confusion amongst the girls on court.

That’s when my mom leaned down to me and said, “You better get over there”

“What? Why?” I responded.

“Because they just called your name!”

I broke away from my parents and walked over to see my friend J’s outstretched hand, waiting for me to join him so that we could be crowned.

My heart was filled with joy and a large smile stretched across my face as I was crowned.

Image by Catarina Ballerina

Suddenly my twin sister, C, ran up to me sobbing and gave me a huge hug and kiss on the cheek before she had to run off and conduct the band (She was a drum major).

Image by Catarina Ballerina

As I walked off the field and over to the side of the bleachers the rest of my family greeted me, all smiles and tears of joy for me. Each one embracing me, making my heart overflow with emotion.

Since it was the band’s senior night, I had to rush off to the band room to change into my marching band uniform. The entire track there I was met with the smiling faces of everyone who had stopped me earlier that week to tell me about how I had helped them in some way, all of them exclaiming that they had told all of their friends to vote for me.

When I reached the band room, I was all alone. The reflection of my smiling face with the crown atop my head staring back at me through the glass on the door. I just remember grabbing the crown and giggling in awe of what had just happened.

That evening, after my band had marched their final show together, when I was walking out I was greeted by A of all people! I was so excited to see her, I gave her a huge hug and she congratulated me on winning. I then told her about how she had inspired me to love our school and the people in it in the first place.

Image by Catarina Ballerina

It was an absolute honor to represent the place that taught me to be myself.

-xx Lenny