Where a person was born and now lives, where she went to college and works, and whether she is married, gay, or has children can give me a clouded, biased picture of that person. I am much more interested in motivations, experiences, and ideals that lend to an individual’s complexity. Yes, I am one of those people who ask those not-so-easy to answer, yet not too personal questions when I meet someone for the first time because I assume I will find out what she does for a living when someone else inevitably asks her.
Like everyone else, I am the sum of my experiences with a few genetic factors thrown in, such as my love of all things sweet. I grew up an only child in an interracial marriage in an African-American family and community in the 1970’s and early 80’s, and learned first-hand that prejudice and meanness does not have a color. Writing has been an enjoyable outlet and humor has taken the sting out of life’s challenges. I have an overly strong need for justice that the world just cannot seem to beat out of me (although it has given it a good try). Unlike Navin in The Jerk, I have rhythm, and enjoy any kind of music as long as it makes me feel something. I was voted “most likely to get married first” by my high school friends because I enjoyed love affairs over dating. I thought I was choosing the white-picket-fence model when I got married and had my daughter at 19. By the time I was 27 I realized that I had naïvely chosen the “I can cheat because you are financially dependent on me” model and got a divorce. I went to work as a waitress because I could still be a room mother on my days off and early shifts meant I could pick up my daughter from school. I received two years of child support before my ex-husband ran away to Key West. Then I met the love of my life, a man fresh out of the Marines. We built a life together with our daughter in a small village that is a short drive from the city where I grew up. My child-rearing philosophy has always been “she will never question whether I love her”, and she never has. After years of scratching and clawing for the American Dream, I now realize that my naiveté extended to much more than the white picket fence. What is important has shifted, as it has for many Americans. Right now it is important that I write as I have always wanted to, not for money or prestige, but to satisfy an indescribable yearning.