Monday, November 3, 2014

If That Means I'm a Nerd, So Be It.

A blurry photo of me and my bike.
To celebrate Nevada’s 150th anniversary, this year Las Vegas hosted a Nevada Day parade downtown on the morning of October 31. I was in full planning mode at work, coordinating the float that we had in the parade, complete with a giant Nutcracker and kids dressed in costumes from the production.
Of course it makes me remember the parades I rode in when I was a kid in my little hometown in Southern Indiana. I rode in the Girl Scouts’ float dressed as a clown, on the back of a convertible as Miss Orange County, and on my bicycle with a group of kids at the back of the parade.
It’s the year I rode my bike that affected me the most. Every year, any kid was allowed to ride their bike at the back of the parade, and usually it was a ragtag group of kids with reckless tricks and scruffy bikes.
My friends and I decided to ride, but of course I couldn’t just ride my bike. It had to be made into something more. So I consulted my trusty Kids America book, which gave instructions for things like tree house building, party throwing, butter churning, and scary-story telling, and I found instructions for decorating a bike for a parade. My friends agreed to decorate their bikes as well.
I followed the book’s instructions to a T. A huge sign went on the front of the handlebars, decorated with red, white, and blue streamers and the words Spirit of America in silver glitter. Streamers trailed from the back seat and were laced through the bike’s spokes. American flags flew from the basket and from seat. It was the perfect representation of a themed parade bike. It was what it should be if you were going to be in a parade, or so I thought.
I’ll never forget wheeling my bike over to my friends’ house so we could ride down the hill together to town on the morning of the parade. They had decorated their bikes by putting red streamers through the spokes of their wheels. And that was it. No signs. No sparkle. No theme.
I was surprised – I thought they would put as much work into their bikes as I had into mine. I was disappointed, and a little embarrassed. I felt a little nerdy, having done what I had done to my bike.
But I rode it anyway. I was proud of my effort. And I’m so glad that I committed to my plan to ride the decorated bike, no matter what anyone thought.
Now I look back and see just how much that event reflected my personality and the feelings I would face throughout my life. I often am surprised when people don’t put effort and pride into their work. And I don’t mean work as in “work”, but as in anything they try to accomplish. Why commit to something only to do it half-ass?
The extra thought and effort I put into things now, as an adult, is looked at differently. What might have been nerdy back then is now rewarded as hard work, organization, attention to detail, and creativity.
If that means I’m a nerd, so be it.