The only books I could read at home were either the newspaper, the encyclopedia set, a dictionary or whatever textbook I took home from school for the day. I had no nursery rhyme books, no Dr. Seuss books, no books about Cinderella, Snow White or Disney for me to read. No alphabet, number or shape books. My love of books started with the RIF bus. It pulled up to whatever school I was attending. Right before Christmas break and right before school was out for the summer, I could always count on the Reading is Fundamental bus to show up. We were allowed to take up to two books at a time and sometimes I left with three books.
From Judy Blume, Escape from Witch Mountain and Nancy Drew mysteries... I loved my books. Then everything I owned as a child was tossed out to the trash as I was abandoned and my life continued without my family. I was fourteen years old when I wrote my first poem, 'Flying Free,' a poem I wrote about a bird who escaped abuse and finally flew free. The poem was about the morning I ran to my friend's house years earlier in 1981, I was the bird. As years went on I wrote more poems and started a journal. One journal for one life, right? By age eighteen I had over forty poems under my belt, I knew what I wanted to be; a writer. It was something I loved and I quickly found myself sending one poem, two poem, three poems and more to numerous poetry contest I would see in my local newspaper. And suddenly I was receiving awards and encouragement on my writing. One of my poems was published in the Anthology of Great Poems in 1989 and I went on to win a poetry contest selected by Ed McMahon himself. I was nineteen years old and on my way to my writing career. I was invited to a big gala event where I would receive my award, meet other talented writers, poets and give a speech about my love of writing. I was so super excited to attend this event which was being held in Maryland. I shopped for a dress, shoes and made arrangements with my work. I started to look for a motel I could stay at while I was in Maryland when my boyfriend at the time questioned me something that changed my whole career choice.
"What are you going to tell them about your family life?" he questioned me. I just looked at him speechless for a few minutes. "They won't ask me about that," I answered him. "You become a famous writer then everyone will know," he told me. "Paparazzi find out anything they want," he continued before going into the bathroom and shutting the door. My heart sunk into my stomach, my stomach fell to my feet. My mind raced, my anxiety soared and doubt filled my head. "I'm not that good," "The world has better writers," "I'm not worth it," "No one will like me," "Everyone will know what I lived through." And just like that, my writing career ended. I never went to Maryland, I never accepted my award, didn't meet Ed McMahon and became a closet writer for the next thirty years. I didn't give up on writing, but I did give up on becoming a writer. As the years went by, I continued to write in journals and I continued trying to explain a promise I made to a friend. One journal, two journals, three journals, four. My nightstand drawer filled up. Pieces of paper with poems and another notebook filled up. I would smile at the fact if I should die young, I would not die a secret. My horrible childhood is written in those journals. My beautiful poetry sat in my nightstand drawer. My promise to a friend explained over and over again. It would all be read once I died. I wouldn't die a secret and that was my inside smile I reminded myself every single day. I wouldn't die a secret. As much as I hated it took a car accident and a painful neck injury to bring out the repressed memories I experienced, in some sense, I also knew it was the needle in a haystack towards my recovery. Unfortunately the road was long, overwhelming, draining and full of 'I want to quit' moments, but I didn't give up and I am so glad I didn't. I started out with paper, ink and ended up with a multitude of journals, notebooks and sheets of paper. Then I moved on to an electric typewriter. I started typing to help me cope with the horrible memories I was dealing with, I didn't pay attention to the font, spaces or punctuation. The smallest, lightest page after page of words. Leaving me with bundles of improperly written manuscripts.
Then I gave in... You got it, I rewrote my memoir, my poetry and my other manuscripts. It was like an 18-wheeler kept driving over me with each page I edited and rewrote correctly. So draining, exhausting and never ending. I now have two nightstand drawers, a closet shelf and a Tupperware storage container, all which hold my handwritten work, my bundles of improperly type manuscripts and multiple copies of my properly typed work. Along with my online, offline and SD copies of all my work. It feels so much better to be living not a secret rather than waiting until I died. Writing is in my blood, it always was. I just never had a chance to be me. Until one day I became a needle in a haystack. And now my words spill onto the pages like a bird finally Flying Free...
Flying high as a bird can be, A silent cry as the bird goes free. A desperate scream as the bird goes by, All broken dreams built on goodbyes. Flying high on its own, Trying to forget all the sorrow. Facing the world all alone, With the lonely days of tomorrow. Flying high at it's own pace, Flying high and flying free. Knowing someone somewhere, Is taking the place of a bird once played by me.