I am linking this post up with "Finish the sentence Friday" because is fits. When I wrote this post, I had just finished up a Bachelor's Degree and I would turning forty in two short months. I was at a place in my life that I was trying to figure out, "What's next?"
"When I was younger I tried... many things."
I am reading a book where I was asked the question, “What difference are you making or have you made in the world?” Wow. I am so glad no one put me on the spot with that one; the answer or non answer is one to ponder. For some reason I thought about what role I may have played in the days of slavery. I decided I definitely wouldn’t have been Harriet Tubman. I would have been the one trying to get promoted out of the fields to work in the big house where it was not so hot. And then perhaps my contribution may have been to pilfer goods from the big house for those that braved the escape to freedom.
Then the question made me ponder down memory lane. In the 2nd grade I joined the Brownies. However that works, I don’t remember going back after I made my right hand pledge with my mom as my witness.
In the 3rd grade I tried modeling and lasted through what was for me, the first and last fashion show. In my memory I had to walk a square as big as a baseball field, pivoting at each corner. In actuality I believe we were on a small dance floor. The music for my walk was a Bob James instrumental and when I hear it today, the nostalgic tune is still mixed with the sound of my own heartbeat. I wasn’t cut out for the stage.
In the 5th grade I attended a predominately white school (let’s say 98 % because I was the only black girl in my class). There my only acting experience consisted of playing a dual role of an orphan and maid in Annie. We had to mess up our hair to play the orphan and when I went to dress as the maid I couldn’t fix it back; well perhaps my Jewish best friend couldn’t fix her hair back either.
In the 6th grade I naively walked toward the music room for talent show try-outs with my Denise Williams 45 of Silly of Me in hand. I heard two 8th graders belting out Luther Vandross’ If this World were Mine, followed by another singing Truly by Lionel Richie and then another piping out Michael Jackson’s She’s out of my Life a cappella. I realized I couldn’t sing (not like that) and inconspicuously hid my record under my shirt while acting as an observer and not a participant.
In the 7th grade, convinced by others that “pretty” would make me a good cheerleader, I tried out. Friends worked with me on some simple steps that I could never master. I made the pep squad which meant I sat in the bleachers and screamed the cheers as the cheerleaders performed them. I lasted for a few home games.
By 8th grade I had also learned that I couldn’t really dance either. Try as I might, after I learned I was being ridiculed from the sidelines, I became a wallflower. With lessons after school provided by my best friend for weeks leading up to 8th grade prom, I learned the latest dances in time. I was able to impress my partner, who was a military transfer student, and had no knowledge of my dance history while also drawing good attention from everyone else who did.
Dancing has never been so easy since. I still have a phobia of being made fun of from the sidelines. To keep from being seen, if anyone asked me to dance, I pulled them into the middle of the dance floor nested in between as many people as possible. I recall in college being jumbled up in a crowd who had begun the electric slide, I hadn’t learned it, couldn’t do it and had a hard time getting out from the dance floor without stepping on everybody’s toes. Dancing after that came after too many drinks to care who was watching and that hasn’t happened since 12/31/99.
Going down memory lane does not have anything to do with any difference that I am making anywhere. The question asked only made me ponder on experiences I fell short of succeeding. However, as a little girl I also remember my mom taking me to see Maya Angelou speak and realizing my love for the rhythm of poetry and writing. In a recent pep talk about my writing aspirations, my baby cousin told me that the gift I had was in my delivery; I repeat this to myself often. Her comments and this question I have pondered, give me the inspiration to stop being a wallflower and dance with pen and paper; here is where I have rhythm.
For now, I need only ponder on the difference I can make in dancing with my writing. Taking on the challenge of making a difference in the world can occur with one reader at a time.