Tonight I come to you. I come to you to ask forgiveness.
Forgive me if I do not find the adequate words.
Elaborate celebrations and ceremonies are being planned. We’ve seen them before. We’ve celebrated. We’ve protested. We’ve woken up to new reigns with new leaders many times. Tonight is no different than the others. But it’s all different.
For some people you have hope. You have a belief in making things great again. You have this deep rooted, unwavering belief our world will change. I respect those values in you. I respect you sit with excitement instead of fear. Tomorrow will be a new beginning, so we’re told.
My mama taught me when I first started dating boys that you can’t change a man. A man has to want to change himself. Just as I have wanted to change so many times before. In my own adaptations and reincarnations, I only aspire to be a better human, to be a better mate, and hopefully a decent mother. To do the best of my capability with my talents and recognize my shortcomings.
A little boy ran around a front yard on Auburn Road, a small road in Huntington, West Virginia, hidden behind a highway. Although this was not that long ago, today it feels like eternity since I stood in the green, fenced-in yard with my son. His innocence still naive to the world around him. I walked up to him and said, “Baby, Mama got big news!” My smile hurt from reaching cheek to cheek on my face. I told him “They’re going to let me write for Hearst. William Randolph Hearst.” God, my heart swelled with all the pride I could muster. He didn’t understand what it meant. He still doesn’t understand what his Mama does. He hasn’t seen Citizen Kane yet. He doesn’t know of “Rosebud.”
Months would pass. I’d submit. Write. Submit again. And again and again. It took 11 rejections before I got to look at my boy and say, “They accepted me. Citizen Kane, baby.” I published several more times with them. One night after my acceptances, my son and I were snuggled in my bed watching a documentary about building railroads. They showed the mansion at San Simeon, Hearst Castle. I looked at my son and tried to explain again, “I wrote for him. His company published me a few times.” And he smiled, not because of my words, but because they were laying the tracks across America. He loves trains, more than everything.
Perhaps wanting a three-year old to understand is my shortcoming. Wanting him to know I did something good. Because I do try to aspire to be good. Oh, I’m overly ornery, I’ll never deny this infamous trait of mine.
Perseverance. I hope he’ll understand the work I’ve done, one day. That I’ve been told ‘no thank you’ a lot in my life. All I know how to do is to keep trying. Keep punching away, with the determination that maybe it will mean something. Even after tomorrow, keep punching away. Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep believing in the change you desire to not make America great, but to make society and the world better because you were here.
Today, I was told that people who don’t believe in tomorrow are “Ignorant, losers, and vile.” I am one of those people who don’t believe. I didn’t speak up. Out of respect because the words came from an elder. A lady who lived through wars and raised her own babies. I simply nodded politely and went about my day. Those words wrenched me. I may be ignorant to a great many things. I’m not a loser, nor vile.
My timid nature is not vile. My great big smile hides a great deal of pain, every day. Yet, I wear my smile, full teeth baring, and hope for the best. Today is the day I was granted, not promised. I am grateful for the simple fact I don’t have to worry anymore that a man will beat me until I lost consciousness, and I’ve always wondered what happened to me. I don’t have that fear anymore. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not any day coming. I don’t have to be fearful. But I am now, for new reasons.
Strength. In the face of humiliation, intimidation, and self-righteous beliefs… stay strong. Crawl out from under the bed and face the world even after they spit on you. When they hurl their worst, have the strength to not become your worst. God is love. Love is kind. Even to those who are unkind. Stand strong together. America was birthed from overthrowing tyranny. Those are our bloodlines, our heritage.
That doesn’t change tomorrow, or the months to follow. We were always great.
The only thing that does change is the people we choose to allow ourselves to become after tomorrow. Shortcomings, talents, and each delicate detail in-between.
To my fellow writers: We own our domains. They can’t censor us.