Some of the hardest times in my life were some of my best times. They are the times that I learned the most. They are the times I found love and lost love while facing myself. For me, one of those times was Speech class. It was way back when my age (71) was reversed. 16-17 years old. 10th grade. A TERRIFYING class. Yet the teacher was so fascinating. We debated using Robert’s Rules of Order; we argued and passed to legalize marijuana, prostitution, equal rights, and so many more restrictive laws and lean into misogynistic, bigoted ways. The arguments were from both sides as we were required to argue them from either side as the teacher assigned. I found all of it so exciting. Listening to everyone’s speeches intrigued me. The teacher’s input fascinated me. But one guy, who was a year ahead of me, was wow! I can’t even come up with a word that described his ability to take a topic and unfold something that seemed cut and dried to an eye-opener set of reasoning that left me breathless.

Somehow he ended up my boyfriend. For three whole months, I got to see how this guy thought in every way. Then he went back to his original girlfriend, who he is still married to, as I understand it. So I feel good at this age that he got such a sweet person to devote his life to. I feel lucky to have known him for that short time, but the Speech class became even harder for me after our break-up. Speech-making turned me into a puddle of sweat and nervousness. Seeing that beautiful man every day brought me to tears nearly every day.

Even after two years of Speech class, I find speeches the most horrid things to do. I did get to the point where I could do a little acting, I did like my drama class. And at one point, after a great amount of grief, I got to the point of loving to sing solos, anywhere. But it has been so long ago now that I think I’d have to relive the whole process to get up and sing alone. Give me a choir or chorus—no dancing or giving long speeches. I’ll save those for times when no one is watching!

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Per Linda G. Hill–

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