Portrait of the Artist as a
Young Girl Woman – Age 32
Colon was not my first attempt to begin the filling of my passport pages (twice). It was just the first attempt that succeeded.
In my last year of college, graduate school was the option behind the paperwork that littered my desk— applications to become a Delta flight attendant and to join the Peace Corps. My previous study abroad dreams were thwarted by (I now realize well meaning and not completely serious) comments about living in a hut and peeing over a pit.
And Ms. Practical, my friend at the time, couldn’t see how the whole travel-the-world thing was gonna work for me, Mr. Right, and our six kids (even numbers so there would be no middle child). “Uhh, duh, African women have been carrying babies on their backs forever. And in this century, there are even strollers.” She wagged her head at me; she always did.
But the truth behind my graduate school applications being the first ones on the pile of my post-grad options, was a certain apprehension of my own. Not so much that maybe Ms. Practical and the Chorus of the Well Meaners were right. Travel was something that other people did. They had means and motives. I was just curious. And curious didn’t seem enough.
Luckily by Colon, I had decided that Enough had too often been determined by other people’s equations. I made up my own equation: want to travel = will travel.
In a single summer, I booked two trips and made plans to do the same every year following. (The economy decided otherwise). But for that one summer—ahh that summer—my equation worked.
Langston Hughes wonders if a dream deferred, “dries up/like a raisin in the sun.” Perhaps he was considering as I do, that sometimes when our dreams are delayed, left until we’re ready to handle and appreciate their worth, they are sweeter—like raisins.