Today I am far from the Empire State, in a lovely state called Wisconsin. I joined Miss America for her official homecoming weekend alongside Noelle Freeman, Jennifer Sedler and Betty Thompson. As the Top Five from this year's contest, we had the privilege of joining Laura for her official return home.
Would you expect the luggage to be any less voluminous and any less pink? I thought not. As the city girl I offered to ride in the back, figuring I was the most desensitized to crowded transportation.
After a snug ride we met at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center where the Miss Wisconsin Organization, who so generously sponsored our visit this week, greeted us with open arms. Tonight was the Miss America Homecoming Show with talent performances from the Miss America Top 5 as well as additional performances by Miss America's Outstanding Teen 2011 Elizabeth Fechtel, Miss Wisconsin's Outstanding Teen 2011 Annie Jorgensen, Miss America's Outstanding Teen 2010 Jeanette Morelan, and the new Miss Wisconsin 2011 Raeanna Johnson. Laura officiated Raeanna with a crowing ceremony mid-show.
The night was a wild mix of us (or shall I say, The Four) meeting each other all over again and yet catching up as if we'd been friends forever. We could not get enough of one another. They even inspired me to try some dancer stretches which quickly reminded me why I chose singing as my talent.
While getting ready I asked Noelle to help me zip my talent dress. The dress' previous life as a designer showroom sample had put a bit of wear on the zipper, but it had been nothing a second set of hands couldn't fix. I faced front, put my arms in the air...and suddenly felt as if a beast had sunk a thousand fangs into my side. Quickly yanking the zipper down, I looked to find a three inch gash up my side with Noelle's horrified face staring up. Jennifer and Betty stood frozen in anticipation of my reaction. I took ten seconds to let the burning subside before breaking into laughter. Quite luckily for Noelle I believe firmly that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and that our conversation two minutes prior about none of us being in quite the same physical shape as we were at Miss America apparently had found it's punchline.