“When I grow up, I want to be an author!” This is me, age seven, probably on a cold, rainy day in the middle of September, speaking with my mother. It was a bold declaration then, one most likely influenced by the language arts class that I was enamored with which included creating a hand-stitched, Crayola illustrated book.
According to my mother’s recount of the conversation, she smiled and shrugged knowing that I was easily swayed by the various new topics or events that I encountered. Apparently, the following February (Black History month), after reading literature on Malcolm X, and subsequently watching Spike Lee’s biopic featuring Denzel Washington’s tour de force performance, I told her I wanted to be a civil rights activist. Again, I was seven.
Nevertheless, I can still recall the euphoric sense of jubilation and accomplishment I felt as I marched up to my 2nd-grade teacher to turn in my masterpiece. I didn’t know many authors other than Dr. Suess and R.L. Stine, but I knew my novel game was killin’ ’em.
My book was centered around a boy, his dog and his quest to become the ultimate champion on Nickelodeon’s hit show, Guts. He was a beast, as he trained hard to master bungee basketball and dodge foam rocks, eventually realizing his destiny and taking his place as the victor on the throne of the Super Aggro Crag.
Though the plot was extremely thin, with virtually no character development and grammatical errors galore, it marked the first time that I presented my thoughts and ideas to the world. Nothing could have felt better.
As I grew older my passion and subsequent goals aimlessly shifted as one might expect given the maturation process of adolescents. Like most boys embarking on puberty, over the next several years I directed my aspirations towards becoming a professional athlete thanks to Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Ken Griffey Jr and Tiger Woods.
I went so far as to design my personal trademark furnished with a Nike Swoosh. I even remember rehearsing a fictional interview with my childhood crush Ananda Lewis for a feature episode of MTV Cribs. Crazy shit right?
Nevertheless, as time passed and priorities shifted, life became less about chasing what I wanted to become and more about what I was willing to settle for. My dreams were replaced with societal expectations. Aspirations manifested into burdening responsibilities.
What was once a fantasized, illustrious career as an author, or professional athlete, or even a Black Nationalist leader, had dissipated into a meandering existence as an uninspired retail store manager. Not exactly how the childhood version of myself thought things would turn out.
But then something amazing happened. Not too long ago I took a trip to my hometown of Detroit. My parents needed some help around the house as they transitioned into their blissful new lives as retired folks, but if I’m being honest, I relished the opportunity to spend a few days in the Motor City. I hadn’t been “home” in a little over 5 years and nostalgia had taken its toll. I yearned to see family, friends and, weirdly enough, my childhood dentist.
I craved Buddy’s Pizza, L. George’s chili cheese dogs and baklava from Greektown much like Captain Planet’s urge to save Mother Earth. Hell, I was even ecstatic at the mere thought of being at the intersection of 7 Mile and Greenfield witnessing Farrakhan’s disciples from the Nation of Islam sell bean pies.
As I rummaged through my childhood home, reminiscing on my life that was, I stumbled across the tattered remains of my hand-crafted work of fiction. Flipping through the fragile, water-colored pages brought back a familiar rush. The seven-year-old child began to take the place of the twenty-nine-year-old man he had become. And suddenly it hit me like a cliché poster in a public library. Was I really meant to be an author? Could this have been a premonition that I’ve avoided for the past 22 years?
I immediately began to search for validation of my childhood claim. I dug up previously published articles during my time at Florida A&M. I reviewed work I completed while enrolled in a technical report writing class. I even reread email correspondence I sent to my retail peers illustrating the importance using mobile registers.
I then sought advice from close friends, my fiancé, my mentor and even my former boss. Though the sample of work was vast and incredibly varied, my feelings and the feedback I received were homogeneous; I love doing this, and I’m pretty good at it.
Thus, I made my assertion once again. “I want to be an author.” Or at the very least, a professional writer. My seven-year-old self would be proud. And that’s what brings me here, to this moment, on this site right now. I’m following my passion, writing about any, and almost everything I encounter.
Whether it’s my thoughts on current events, personal reviews of movies and music, culinary exploits I discover, or info about the outfit I wore last Tuesday, I want to write about it, and I hope you read it, and subsequently enjoy it. Because despite the detours that life may bring and the conflicting priorities we may endure, it’s never too late to become who you want to be.