Thursday, April 26, 2007

Decently Fragmented


I feel all over the place, admittedly. The Being Plumville has (technically, according to Amazon and Barnes and Noble) been out for exactly a month today. The people who have contacted me about the book have been very supportive, and I am thankful for them. It does surprise me when people tell me they've absolutely loved the book and what a wonderful writer I am. It made me realize that I don't really think there is one person who genuinely and truly knows who I am.

On this journey as a writer, the first steps starting ten years ago or around about there, has always really been a solitary experience for me. It started quite against my will. My uncle signed me up for Duke Young Writers' Camp, and my thought was the LAST place I, a Geek, Dork, Nerd, Socially-inept rotund black girl need to go was a camp full of Geeks, Dorks, Nerds, and Socially-inept other persons.

Well, joke was completely on me.

I fell in love with that camp, all the Geeks, Dorks, nerds, and Socially-inept persons who were the total opposite of that for the most part. For two weeks every year I was surrounded by like persons who generally accepted the quirky, off-kilter, shy, daydreaming, solitary, own-little-world habits we in that awkward stage of adolescents usually have at that point. It didn't matter I was often the only black girl at the camp, it was home to me. I didn't know I loved writing until I could write for something other than a school assignment. When it could come from me and my imagination. That I could share something private or personal about myself and no one would laugh because we were a community of writers who all wanted someone who could empathize, sympathize, and realize those personal and private parts with us.

Then I get into college, and from writing, comes singing. I sang in Kuumba (official title: The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College--there IS a concert this weekend at Sanders Theater on Harvard's Campus at 8PM, tickets $12 unless you're a student (or know one) then it's $8) and tapped into something else I loved to do. Sing. I sing all the time. I know my neighbors probably hate it. I'm not awful at it, I don't think, but what was better, the choir allowed me to write and share my poetry and gave me the confidence to pay homage to all my nameless ancestors, especially of the female variety, because we rarely get any love in our own Black History. The choir also gave me the support to try out for the creative thesis, and helped me deal with the bitter pill of racism I experience (and didn't want to call it for what it was because it had been so unexpected an awful). In the end, I received a good grade on my thesis, and more importantly, I got out with a degree in two concentrations. Yeah. I so did.

Now that I'm out, and have been out for two years, I am alone. Then again, even when I was at that camp or in school, I still felt alone. Disconnected. Fragmented. I only gave out pieces of my self, pieces I think others would like. I wish I could give my all, but the one person I was able to give that to left me, and I haven't been able to do it as fully since.

My mother.

My first "published" writing was for the Duke Young Writers' Camp literary magazine it put out the end of each session. That poem I submitted was about my mother. She was at the start of this, and she's always around, always at the fore. I miss her. This year in November will be 15 years without her. She is the one person I want to hear say is proud of me, and . . . she can't. At least not with a hug. I want a hug from her. I miss her hugs. I miss her. Sometimes I feel she is the only person who has ever loved me unconditionally, and I find I need that feeling now more than ever, even in the midst of all the congratulations and encouragement I'm getting along this journey. All my life I've wanted to be liked, and I would always put out the parts of me that I think would have them like me. But not me. Just that part of me. There are people at home who have no idea I sing. There are people up here who had no idea I write. There are people who know me and know neither about me. And I know I'm not the best. I'm decent. I'm fairly competent at things, but not the best, not spectacular. I'm not the best friend, the best writer, the best singer, the best student, the best niece or granddaughter or cousin or daughter. I think I'm a pretty good sister. Sometimes. Possibly.

But my mother. I had the best mother. I did. No one can ever tell me otherwise. I think I borderline worship her. I've never heard a bad word about her, and she was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.

I miss her.

It happens whenever something significant happens: graduation, some major birthday, the book being released. I wish she was here. I feel stunted and behind and just . . . I want her laugh. I want her hug. I want her to tell me she loves me. I want to climb into her bed on Saturday morning and just snuggle with her. Yes, I'm 23 years old and I want that. But I can't have that. And it sucks.

Her death changed me. Shook me, clearly. I began parceling out pieces , afraid that if I give my all to someone, that person will go away, too, to someplace I'm not meant to follow. Sometimes I've given bigger pieces than others, and when I've done that, the results haven't been the best. There are bits of this fear in my characters, but as my fiction writer professor at Harvard said, the personal is universal. I work out all those things through my writing. I flesh it out and give it the HEA I and I'm sure other people are searching for. That's why I write love stories. I read love stories. A Harvard graduate who wants to write, and write primarily love stories, for a living. Not just romance, although those are the easiest for me to find, but stories of mothers loving their children, fathers loving their children. I love watching a father with his child. My father didn't raise me, but he loves me. I love him. My mother raised me for a little while, and I love her. My grandmother, aunts, uncles, godmamas, teachers, community. They raised me, and I love them.

I'm working on my love story. Starring me. Featuring me. I'm staring at these fragments and I am working on seeing that the fragments together are worthy of love. Some days it's harder than others. Even if it's just me who ends up loving the put-together fragments, that is a Happily Ever After to which I should aspire.


Rachel Cade said...

well, wow, that was a lot to take in, very interesting and deep post...
every thing you want and need will come to you in time

Kawari said...

What you wrote was not emo. It was an expression of emotion, not some complaint on how American society is too hard for middle class teenagers.
I'm terribly sorry you had to go through losing your mother. I can't even imagine what it would be like to lose someone so close to you. My mom has been my only physical and emotional constant and I honestly can't imagine not living with her.
Even though your mother is no longer with you, in a physical sense, I think it's wonderful you've found a way to express parts of yourself through writing. Your mother would be so proud of you, and she probably is.
I think that everyone probably only gives out certain parts of themselves, but because of your loss the situation is probably heightened. I can def relate to you on that though. This idea that you have to present certain parts of yourself for fear of getting hurt again, or being pressured to represent what you think other people percieve of yourself. Does that make sense?
As much as I love the people I have in my life, it can often feel like I'm being what they expect me to be. My actions, thoughts, and words. Sometimes I'll find myself thinking "WTF?" I barely talk to anyone, often prompting the "She's a bitch" thoughts to "Black emo girl." I find expressing myself hard, unless its through essays. Writing and reading have always been my escapes too. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with Dysthymia that I felt as if I made sense to myself. There's still no one to really talk to though.

But back to you...I hope that one day you will find someone else that you feel like you can connect to. I know that no one will ever be able to replace your mother, but here's to you getting success and happiness in all aspects of your life.

Much Love,
Kawari a.k.a. Vanessa

Bana said...

Thanks Kawari and RC. Yeah. Personal is universal. *hugs* Maybe that's why I went ahead and posted. Because, damn, it's my blog, and if I can't even be honest and full with myself, then with whom?


Josephine said...

Miss Sav, you are far too hard on yourself. Far too hard.

There is no rule in the universe that says you have to give every single part of yourself to everybody. It takes time to know a person and if you click with someone fundamentally you eventually start to get to know them. But I suspect that its one of those things that takes a life time, knowing a person is a journey all by its self.

Our mothers are our first love affairs, they are the ones who teach us what love is and what we should hope for when we leave home and find our mates.

To miss your mother as you do is natural, she is wonderful but be at peace and know that our mothers love can never leave us, our mothers are with us always, forever.

Hugs to you


Bana said...

Yes, ma'am, Miss Jo, you are right. I know you are, but you know some days it strikes harder than others.

I thank you for your words, however. They mean a lot.

*hugs you tight*