Next week will be the fourth national tournament I've attended. Considering that 1) PHC year I didn't know what was going on, 2) UMHB year I was puking my guts out, and 3) BMS year was so awesome, I have no idea what to expect for this coming Nationals. Which is exciting! And scary. Because, you know, as the control freak that I am, I hate not knowing what's coming. And because I enjoyed myself so much last year, I'm worried that this Nationals will just be awful when compared to last year.
My first year of Nationals, my mom brought all four of us to PHC. It was hardcore. It's hard for one woman to keep track of four kids all by herself in a strange environment. But then, the other two years, it was easy. It was just her and me. And I'm not going to lie, the independence was nice. But this year, history repeats itself, which all four of us kids shipping down in our minivan, and I'm a little nervous. My mom is amazing, and we're all a little older now, but the long drive and keeping track of all of us is still going to add hardships to the stress of a national tournament in an unfamiliar location, and I'm worried it's going to be a train wreck. And I'm selfishly lamenting the fact that I won't have the freedom I've had in previous years. I'm not looking forward to keeping tabs on my events all over a humid college campus. I don't like humid college campuses in general.
Plus, who are we kidding, the facility last year was off the hook. Not only is Mrs. Hudson the most epic person ever, but they brought in boy scouts who were amazing. The whole tournament was in one big, empty, air-conditioned building, and it was wonderful. There was even a Starbucks stand! That gave free samples! I'm not going to pretend like Birmingham was an amazing city, but there was civilization. (Compared to the fields of Virginia and Texas.) Chain restaurants and malls and even Whole Foods were all in the area. (And crossing a five lane highway is an awesome memory!) Plus, even though I wasn't expecting it to be, the after-party at the Vulcan Museum was truly a lot of fun. Luke and I can kind of sort of salsa, Andrew was a little successful in teaching me to dance, and yes folks, Tim can do the box step!
Last year, I understood debate. I knew the resolution backwards and forwards. I had a brief on every person I had a flow of. (Except Jason Hughey. But facing him was still fun, and redemptive from the train wreck that was the VA open octafinal round. But I digress. So what else is new.) Whereas this year, even though I think I'm a better speaker than I was last year, I'm still hopelessly a northerner. I don't really understand the resolution. I haven't been able to devote as much time to prep as I'd like. And while I don't think it's presumptuous to think I deserve to be going to Nationals, I also know lots of people who also deserve to be going to Nationals . . . that aren't. And it's too much pressure, to think about how well I'll compete compared to how well they would have competed. I had awesome rounds last year, but I'm afraid my debates won't be as awesome this year.
Last year, I met a bajillion new people. (Cos, you know, that's what happens when you walk next to Katie through the halls. No joke.) Chilling with the Rileys and getting to know the awesome that is Daniel. Hiding from the Nazis photoshoots in stairwells. Private showings of people's speeches. Talking Apple tech with Elliot. Jon's awesome nicknames and playing PIG at the Drury Inn. Watching people run around in the epic downpour. Hair styling parties with Bekah, Becka, and Eden. Talking with Sharon while we waited for our mothers, and laughing over the Nathan Brown incident. Chelsea stalking Zach. Reconnecting with friends from opens and debate camp. And probably the single most memorable thing for me from last year, the epic conversations I had with Andrew, Mr. Fiore, Lennae, Michael, Kristen, and Rebecca. We do it all the time now, but for me it was the first time I shared my questions with other people and successfully had deep, meaningful conversations.
And I'll stop now before this turns into even more of a ridiculous nostalgia fest!
I know I'm not going to Nationals to have fun. I'm going to compete. I know that. But in addition to competing to the best of my ability, I hope I have fun, too. I want to get to know people, and I want to learn things, and I want to make memories. Competition is only so valuable. I just hope my expectations for this coming national tournament aren't not too high.