Let me just start off by saying, I should’ve never listened to my mother. Before you say, “parents know best” or the Christian “honor thy mother and father” hear me out.
From birth we have no choice but to trust our primary caregiver(s). I was no different. I had to rely on my mother for everything, bathing, eating, how I was going to wear my hair, what clothes I was going to wear, what pageants I could win, what hobbies and instruments Id play, what church i was going to attend. Anything and everything I needed and wanted was decided by her. Even as I grew old enough to make my own decisions she still decided for me. I didn’t have to go shopping with her cause she still chose my clothes, what bras id wear, what pads I’d use for my menstrual. What perms id burn my scalp with and ultimately what dreams I’d chase.
Growing up I wanted to do two things, model and act. As I grew older and was bombarded by schemes and fake agencies, I kept the vision but pushed the dream further back to the horizon. It began to become hazy. I began to lose hope. By the time I was 16, I was graduating highschool and unlike most kids unaware of what they wanted out this life I knew with conviction i wanted to shake the fear and run after my dreams. Truth is my brother died at 14 when I was 12 and as my bestfriend and confidante I realized he was no longer here to mimic, to idolize, to follow and that it was my chance to break free. I opened up, I poured out my heart’s desire to go to New York. You see at the time New York was the “IT” place for performing arts, along with California but I knew the west coast was a little too far for comfort and that id be better of choosing somewhere on the east. To no avail, my dreams were once again shot down, not because I applied to the school I wanted and was rejected but because my mother ripped down my goal. I was shooting free throws and they had no where to go. So I listened. “Take up Graphic Design, they make alot of money and you can move to Atlanta where family can check on you.” You see, she believed because I taught myself design at an early age that was most suitable and the location even more suitable because her sister lived there. Truth is I enjoyed designing but hated being chained to a computer for hours at a time. Simply put, Graphic Design just wasn’t my dream. But, I listened, merely because the home I lived in had become like a cage of sorts and I was a blackbird trying to be free. So I listened. I packed up my things in June of 2007, at 16 and moved to Atlanta. I started school at the Art Institute of Atlanta and despised every single moment of it. Moreover, I was still alone and I was still caged. Confined to her idea of who I was supposed to be. After all, she raised me for 16 years and had just about decided every aspect of my life and being. That Aunt, I rarely saw. It could have became, if I didn’t have the sense to grow from it, my greatest downward spiral. So much happened in those 7 years that it could be a J.K Rowling novel. However, the one thing that remained the same was my dream.
Langston Hughes has a poem where he poses the question, what happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
When I read ‘Harlem’ I see me in the tip of every word, running towards every line like I was in 80’s horror movie. What happened to my dream deferred…it sits on the window ledge of pessimism, reaching out for optimism hesitant to move just an inch closer out of fear that it will fall off the edge and shatter like hearts made of glass. It dreams in color but sees in black and white. It sits idly while being passed by and silently screams, I’m here! It’s just the chatter of a mother, the world and it’s sins keeps the dreamer believing it’s just beyond her reach.
I am 26 now and a mother of 2 and my mother still believes she knows what’s best for me. I still am that girl with her dreams on a shelf, waiting for her to realize her potential. In a way I’ve realized my potential and I’d rather chase after dreams like butterflies and enjoy the freedom of chase than be caged like a blackbird, forgetting she’s always had wings.