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Sun-dried Dreams

“What happens to a dream deferred? /Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?/… Or does it explode?”

— Langston Hughes

Teacher: “So Sabrina, what would you like to be when you grow up?”

Me at 9 years old: I would like to be one of those people who write the books without the pictures in them, and I wanna write poems like the ones we had to read out loud for Black History month [I was referring to Langston Hughes’s Mother to Son.]

Teacher: Really?! That’s a very exciting dream! You can do it if you work hard and never give up.

Me at 9 years old: {Thinking: I ain’t never gonna give up on this.}

By the time I made it to middle school, I had already written over a hundred poems. And I don’t mean the “Roses are red/ Violets are blue” type of love poems that are written for crushes whose eyes were never intended to actually see the poem. I wrote poems about everything: love, war, racism, oppression, teenage self-esteem issues, and even what very little I knew about regret, pain and physical desires. Before I had even reached the sixth grade I had already won various awards and prizes for essays and short stories I had written for class assignments. I had even come up with a couple of ideas for magazines that I had planned on creating. Everywhere I went I carried at least one novel, any poetry anthology that included Nikki Giovanni or Maya Angelou and any kind of journal that could be locked. In those days I knew exactly who I was and who I would grow up to be.

But then I actually grew up, and a few months ago I looked into the mirror and scared the hell out of myself. I had become all the things I used to write against: a man-needin’ woman, a self-conscious girl, a retail addict on credit, a non-active dreamer, and most of all, an unapologetic conformist.

I went to college and traded my soul in for a brotha with a pay check and a fly outfit. With the flip of my wrist I threw my dreams away, both literally and figuratively. Many of the journals and notebooks it took me months to fill up were thrown out to make room for my Coach bag and Carrie Bradshaw-like stilettos.

I masked a once unblemished face with the unnatural shades that Cover Girl and MAC told me I wouldn’t beautiful without. I relaxed my nappy roots and replaced my sterling silver ankh engraved jewelry for some real bling. Before the end of my freshman year I had completely transformed myself into something completely unrecognizable to the little girl whose only dream was to write something so prominent that all the world [and Oprah] would whisper her name in awe.

Needless to say, I walked away from my dreams before I could really try to make them a reality. Now, many years, excuses and mind changes later I am back to where I started. My dream was deferred, not by situation, circumstance or even God’s will. But by my own self-esteem issues that had second thoughts about being a starving artist with the clichéd waitress or retail jobs that only pay enough to cover rent and bologna sandwiches. Luckily, my dreams did not explode under of the pressure of my baggage, and with a little time, determination and the maturity I once lacked, I will achieve those things I first set out to get at nine years old.

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2 Responses

  1. as long as you don’t give up, you can always keep a dream alive. i used to write poems, actually it was an outlet – mostly angry stuff – but now i’ve let all that go and write, or try to, with understanding.

  2. I can say one thing you are a damn good writer, blessed with the talent to communicate with others using a pen and pad. Use your gift to touch others, to bless others. Let God send blessings through you.

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