I have loved words for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of my mom reading to my brother and me before bedtime. Both of my parents were avid readers. There were books all over the house. Through those books, I learned Black History, among other things, and Black magazines were always visible, showing positive accomplishments and the black excellence of people who looked like me. All of which helped prepare me for a future filled with history in the making.
I remember reading Gordon Parks’ books, and who knew that years later I would meet his great-niece and work with her to get a gallery established in his honor at one of the colleges in St. Paul, MN. It was amazing to experience an in-person encounter related to something I had read. Hearing Dr. Mae Jemison speak in 2019 is just one of many in-person experiences related to a book I had read. My parents had gotten me a signed copy of her book, Find Where the Wind Goes almost two decades previously. Dr. Jemison’s book is one of several autographed copies gifted to me by my parents over the years.
As an avid reader, my mother made frequent trips to the library as well as the bookstore. Once a week we would walk to the library from our house so my mother could return books and check out new ones. My brother and I were encouraged to do the same, and both had our own library cards. In addition to the library trips, we were always allowed to buy at least one book during the book sales at school. Reading was encouraged.
I remember tagging along to run errands with my mother, who frequently handed me a book so she could read hers in peace. My mom read whenever she could, including while waiting in line. I learned to do the same. Books offered her an escape to other worlds and possibilities.
From her love of reading, I learned that books could also offer me entrance to other places. And then, something even more wonderful, I learned to write. I could craft my own worlds. I too could use words to transport myself and others to new places and possibilities.
I write a yearly Christmas newsletter. I started it after the death of my father as a way to update the numerous people in my life that had not heard the update. I have over 100 people on my Christmas card list and had no desire to write an update that many times (especially given my questionable handwriting). I have received lots of encouragement and positive feedback regarding those newsletters. A cousin told me that she could not wait to receive hers every year. A few others thanked me for the encouragement I include in those letters, the reminder to be thankful for whatever we have. And, maybe best of all, a friend who receives the newsletter encouraged me to be a writer because of those newsletters and what they offer.
Off and on, I spend time in the worlds that words offer me—sometimes reading and other times writing to craft my own possibilities. When I am gone too long, I am always surprised at the joy and adventure that I left behind, amazed that I walked away from something so wonderful. Multiple stories exist in unfinished states waiting to be freed, to invite others into their worlds. So, as I write this, I remind myself of the wonderfulness awaiting release. And, I recommit to the adventures that await.