I got off of a bus in a bad part of town
because I needed to throw up
because I was pregnant.
Three people dressed in business suits walked by me
together, while I was puking.
I looked up at them, and looked in their eyes,
relating to them as my contemporaries,
and was shocked when they acted
as if I wasn’t there
and kept on walking
away from me.
This was one of my first experiences of class; and still to this day
I honestly don’t know which I belong to.
I wrote and delivered the thank-you speech,
to the philanthropist family
who had granted us their prestigious leadership award
I spoke at a podium
on behalf of all the 40-odd recipients from across Canada
at a banquet dinner
I hid that I smoked at the in-person interviews.
I changed shirts in the middle of the day
because I’d forgotten my deoderant,
which I’d had to leave at the airport
when i almost missed my plane.
I’d slept late accidentally
gotten 2 hours of sleep the night before.
i’d almost lost everything now
— marriage, jobs, reputation, mental health.
One of the questions to me at the in-person interviews weekend
was whether or not I felt I’d ever failed.
My answer was that it depended on your definition of failure.
That if you learn from it, it becomes part of your success.
At the end of the conference, I had to leave early.
I went around to all the 90-something finalists,
sitting around the round tables. I shook their hands
and said what an honour it was …