I woke up, and it’s had to describe, but I just knew it was going to be a fucking great Wednesday.
I headed to the production trucks, Starbucks in hand, and settled in for two of the most fun and hectic hours of television I’ve been a part of. I was in charge of turning around taped red carpet interviews for the ESPYs countdown show, and assisting in the identification of stars and athletes as they stepped out for the cameras.
Once our countdown show finished, our producer was awesome enough to get us tickets for the ACTUAL show, the one with Don Draper hosting and all the athletes winning all the awards. So two lady coworkers and myself dashed back to the hotel to put our fancy dresses on. We walked back towards the theater and stopped to get our pictures taken on the red carpet, as one does.
We go into the theater during a commercial break and take our seats. I stick my hand out to show my friend Katie that I’m shaking, and we share a high-five. A few minutes pass before LeBron James, the finest basketball player in the world, took the stage to present the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. LeBron stood, all six foot eight of him, in a suit of deep cranberry, humbled and honored to give the award to Robin Roberts.
Before Robin hosted Good Morning America, she was a trailblazer for women in sports. Her poise and extensive knowledge of all sports made her one of the best in the business. But her professional accomplishments are secondary to her battles with breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome.
After a moving video that had me a bit misty-eyed, she stepped on the stage in a dress as radiant as her personality itself, and gave a lovely speech. Two things she said still sit with me, four days later:
Make your mess your message.
When fear knocks, let faith open the doors.
These are the questions I’m now asking myself: am I taking enough risks? What is the message I want to send into the world? What am I afraid of?
After I got done having FEELINGS over Robin’s speech, and watched Bill Hader as Vladimir Putin in a hilarious skit, Jon Hamm announced Ben Affleck to present the other special award of the night.
Mr. Affleck and I have some history. And by history, I mean he’s been pretty much my favorite famous person on earth, and everything I think I want in a husband, since I was 13. I’m pretty sure every other girl who grew up in Massachusetts in the 90s feels the same way.
So Ben (we’re on a first name basis, duh) takes the stage in a perfectly simple suit, and he’s 200 feet away from me. I’m glad it was dark in the theater, because God knows the kind of awkward fangirl expressions that crossed my face. He starts talking, and he mentions how proud he is that he is from Boston. There is a smattering of applause and some hoots and hollers among the crowd. Ben continues to gracefully present the award to the Hoyts, a father and son, who have run every Boston Marathon since the early 80s, with the father pushing his son, who has cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair every step of the way.
After they accept the award, I am a hot mess of FEELINGS. Two trips to Los Angeles in three weeks – with its perfect weather, awesome friends, ridiculous food, adorable dogs and all-around fantastic lifestyle – seriously got me thinking.
For almost of my adult life, I have called myself an East Coast Person. I love associating myself with my home state of Massachusetts, the city of Boston, and everything that it stands for. But am I, really? What does that even mean? Am I limiting myself and opportunities by telling myself this? You’d never make it in LA. You’re not built for it.
Maybe. But there a few things I know for damn sure, I just needed Ben, the Hoyts and Robin to help me realize them:
I love both Coasts and enjoy them both for how unique they are.
I want to be in Boston more. I haven’t been since the Marathon and I want to fall in love with it again.
NEWSFLASH: So much of what I loved on my vacation in LA (hiking! Biking! Farmer’s markets! Seeing dogs everywhere! Beaches!) are right in my own backyard. I just have to make time for them. Then there are some things I just have to go back to LA for, mainly my cousins, friends and fish tacos.
If I ever decide to move west, I will let faith open the door.
I don’t know what my message is, but I am going to have a damn good time figuring it out.
So thanks, Ben and Robin, for your inspiring words at a time when I really needed them. On a night when I ran into countless athletes and saw Snoop Dogg perform, I’ll remember what you both said the most.
HOW BOUT THEM APPLES.