My uncle bought me my first Harry Potter for Christmas when I was eight, and my momma read it with me, dramatizing each sentence with a flourish of her hand as though she too was flicking a wand.
I use to hide under a blanket when my momma got to the scary part of the book or when it seem that Harry was doomed to fail and evil would triumph. She would stop, tap the top of my head, slowly peel the covers back, and ask,”Do you want me to stop.”
I always shook my head, “This is the good part.”
Reading with my momma taught me that language had drama, rhythm, soul, and could percuss the imagination into dance. I learned about storytelling from watching my family – my momma’s hand gestures, my father’s prayers, my sister boiling the next door neighbors hydrangeas to make shampoo.
I didn’t know people went to school to be writers. No one in my family had done it, but I watched my dad, momma, and sister walk across a green and gold stage and knew one day it would be my turn.
The summer before starting at UAB, I sat in the car with my dad. I was afraid to be an English major, a subject that had no clear post graduation career path, but my dad, the former navy man, the engineer, told me to believe in my dreams. He looked ahead at the road twitching his under lip to dislodge a fry crumb from his mustache, “Do work that doesn’t feel like work, that’s how you will have a good life.”
I know my dreams are a privilege, and my pathway to pursue them was built by my family who labored their bodies and deferred their own dreams so that their children could have more than they did.
The legacy of my family is more: give more, do more, and for the next of us, build a future that allows for greater hopes and dreams, more powerful realities, the unimaginable.
My family has given me this, and one day, I will do the same.