I Just Want You to Know Who I Am*

Whit Honea's Iris AwardThe last thing you hear is your name hanging heavy in the air. There is slow motion and there is blurry. Someone is hugging you. There are hands extended in your general direction. The hem of your garment is tugged and forgiving and straight off the rack. The stage is so very far away.

Then there are steps and a hope not to fall. Another hug. A trophy in your hand. The podium. The spotlight. Hugs again. You open your mouth and words spill out.

How long have I been talking?

Then you are backstage with tears and champagne. There are celebrities and 15 minutes of fame. The woman on the soundboard is not impressed with any of it.

Then surreality slips slowly into hindsight, baffled by contorted confabulations and buoyed by your Instagram feed. You find yourself wishing you had seized the moment more when it was thrust suddenly upon you.

For instance, I should have lingered longer on my wife and kids, calling each by name rather than a common generalization, and I should have thanked my mother. She was the one that encouraged me to put my words on the Internet in the first place, and it was the heartbreak of her passing that drove the stories that got me here. Besides, I was crying already.

And I should have mentioned that my rates just doubled.

We can either learn from the past or let it haunt us, and the doubt of roads not taken should not make any mark of difference.

There are too many people to thank, those that nominated me and those that voted, and especially those that take the time to read the things I throw against the screen, the constant search for tales al dente.

Thank you for this Iris Award.

To be clear, I have won awards before, but most of them have been of the participatory variety. Of those, the majority have been certificates rather than trophies, and some were just pats upon the back. After all, when everybody wins everybody adds up.

In fact, there has only been one award poised atop my mantle for the better part of a decade, a stoic testament to a restless life of emotion. Now they are two, united as they are in focus and mission—bound by gilded hand in gilded hand—a daily reminder that someone out there appreciates whatever this is I do, and those all the closer that I hope will always need it.

Whit Honea awards

*From the song “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, obviously

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