I had a really rough night, got up at 6 and notified a sub. I’m taking a mental health day. A wise choice, a necessary choice and grounds for a different slice one day. I’ve spent most of the day in bed, resting and reading. The book on top of my nightstand pile is Brown Girl Dreaming, a memoir in verse by Jacqueline Woodson.
I’ve read the book before and remember being charmed by the fact that she was born in Ohio (like me), grew up in the 70’s listening to soul music (like me), and had a way with words her whole life long (*wishing* like me). But reading the book, this time, more than one half of it, uninterrupted, while at rest – I had a completely different experience. I drank in her memories as if they were my own. Imagined the handsome uncle, the doting grandfather, the purpose-driven mother as if I had known them myself. I felt like that Brown Girl Dreaming.
At the end of the book there’s a selection of family snapshots from both sides. And these look like photographs I would find of my own family: Grandmother, Willie Mae, Uncle Gene, Aunt Mamie and Uncle Sam, Uncles Thad and Townsand, Mom and Dad, Carlton and Carol. Jackie Woodson’s folks look like my people – brown skinned and shiny, laughing with heads cocked to one side. To feel that kinship on a day that began as if the world was a little too heavy – an enormous gift.
I savor the reading. Woodson’s careful descriptions of the people who shaped her world breathe life back into my own hopes of capturing some of my memories on the page. I savor seeing and being seen.
There are few joys as great as reading the right book at exactly the right time.