Sunday, January 20, 2008

When I Grow Up...

Growing up I wanted to be many things. My family would tell you that Janet Jackson was my icon. I wanted to sing and dance like her. I would pretend that I knew the words to the song (make up words really) and have a little routine that I would perform. I loved Madonna too, but Janet Jackson looked like me, someone I could be.

As I go older the idea of being an entertainer never really left me, I still kept begging my mother for dance lessons, and by the time I was 10 years old I finally got my wish. Before that I had the idea of becomming a mad scientist like Einstein- I don't know where that came from. And I was busy proving to everyone that I was a tom boy while I poked frogs, played with Barbie dolls and made up imaginary games where I usually played a hero like Peter Pan come to rescue sweet Wendy from Captain Hook.

By the time I was 11yrs. I had grown out of imaginary games, boys were swooning into the picture and I could not share with my friends the things I had to face at home. So i began to write- stories, poetry, letters. Dancing and writing became my expression of all I could not say or simply didn't know how to say. I used to sing out loud too and with a lot of gusto but after being laughed at in a talent show, I refused to sing in public again. But that was ok, if I could not be Janet Jackson, at least I could be her back up dancer.

My parents in the meantime had high hopes for me. I was argumentative, I never thought I was wrong and I had a smart mouth so they thought I'd make a perfect lawyer. I'd go to school, get my education, be successful, independent, have a high paying job and live a meaningful, comfortable life. What some people don't know about me is that I live up to my birth sign in the sense that I really am two fish swimming in opposite directions. I was rebellious but I was a people pleaser. I wanted to maintain whatever semblence of peace I could in the home, so I did as asked, I studied hard, I respected myself and I even did law at BCC but I hated it and I didn't fit in.

I started to dread going to dance class. My haven turned into a nightmare once I went into my senior jazz class. It was the first time in my dance career that I felt untalented, unmotivated and unnattractive. I simply didn't love it anymore. Nothing I did was good enough, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I practiced, I was relegated to a position at the back of the group. I was heartbroken and disillusioned. I started skipping classes and eventually I left. Dance just didn't provide that release anymore. So it was time for a change- I was going to heal the world.

I could be a writer, but what kind of living could I make with an English degree. I was good at Spanish so I would maintain that, it is always good to have a second language and dancing- if I could get myself back into the groove again- could always be pursued on the side as a hobby. I could not make a living doing that either, especially if I was not that good. Not if I was going to be sucessful, independent and financially set- at least I would be making a difference in the world.

These were the kind of thoughts that were running through my head. I wanted the kind of life my parents wanted for me. I also secretly wanted to be happily married, and have a job that I absolutely loved- whatever that was. I would be good at it, one of the best and I would only marry if I found someone who would not demand that I fit into the mould of who they thought I should be. But someone I could be me around, someone who would love me for me, push me to live my dream- he would have to be my soulmate. I refused to settle, and i was true to my word. I did not want to repeat the mistakes of my parents. That's when I met Nigel.

My Black is Beautiful

From the colour of my skin, to the texture of my hair
to the length of my strands, to the breadth of my smile

To the stride of my gait, to the span of my arms, to the depth of my bosom
to the curve of my hips, to the glow of my skin...
My black is beautiful

It cannot be denied. It will not be contained.
And only I will define it.

For when I look in my mirror, my very soul cries out,
My black is beautiful

And so today, I speak it out loud, unabashedly I declare it anew.
My black is beauiful.

Whether celebrated, immitated, exploited or denigrated
Whether natural from inside or skilfully applied
My black is beauiful.

To my daughters, my sisters, my neices, my cousins, my colleaugues and my friends,
I speak for us all when I say again,

My black is Beautiful.

By: Saundra Heath