birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

I'm not Flo Jo

Flo Jo was fast, fierce and fashionable. Not only was the late great known for her blazing speed on the track but equally her trail blazing athletic fashion. It was Spring 1987 and my senior year of high school. Our high school team had made it to the CIF finals for our women's 4x100 relay. We were excited by the possibilities of qualifying and making it to the state meet. The race was an hour away and our coach advised us that our uniforms had to match including how we wore our shorts and or tights. Each of our tank tops matched gold and burgundy our school colors and name on front, but we all had different bottoms. There were two who wore burgundy shorts, one who had burgundy tights, and myself who wore burgundy tights under burgundy shorts. Although I had an athletic physique, I lacked confidence about my body and desired to expose the least amount possible. Our teammate who ran anchor leg in our relay made the call for our team. She said we were going to wear our tights only, just like Flo. My mind began to spin. I am not Flo Jo. Tights only would make me feel naked, each curve athletic or not exposed to the crowd. Flo Jo was bold, brave and beautiful. I did not feel like that. I was the only member to protest the decision and even begged to wear shorts. Shorts was all of a sudden not cool enough, tights it was. My heart felt like it sank, sped up and stopped all at the same time when our race was called, and we headed to the track. I felt excited, eager, and exposed for the race. When the gun went off and the race began the adrenaline allowed me to forget I had tights on, and we were able to seal a spot for the State finals. After the race and the team celebration was over I instantly remembered I had tights on. I paused for a moment and thought wearing tights was not so bad and then the adrenaline wore off and I hurried to put on my sweatpants.

Eager Letter Writer

This is what I told her