Saturday, March 15, 2014

Coming of Age With Zora

Two weeks ago, I had major surgery on my neck.

It was something about that removing of the offending thing - my submandibular gland - that released a thought in me that I have marinated on for two weeks.

Jubilee is a freedom  year, a chance to breathe, to re-evaluate and to reinvent.

My big birthday is less than two months away and pondering that milestone, I pondered what it means to come of age, to be fully realized, to live.

Zora Neale Hurston is one of my writing sheroes who did not get her proper respect when she died.  She is buried in an indescript, segregated cemetery with a headstone that Alice Walker had placed there many years later on what is assumed to be the spot.  Zora died penniless and practically alone, childless, except for the volumes she left us and an autobiography that some have wondered if it was embellished.  In all of her authenticity and complexity, Zora still stands as a giant among women.

She dared to be herself and embrace all sides of herself, to define herself, even if convention whispered something else.

Needing not a man, three husbands could not "tame" her ambition, and wanting nothing but her art, Zora opened wide a door of opportunity that she never realized, an opportunity that defied definition.

I decided, as I was in my room for five days, that life is short, there are more years behind me than in front of me, and that for the remaining years, I intend to be fully alive.

Once dubbed "bougie" by the local black folks and "radical" by the local white folks because I demanded excellence from my staff, because I carry myself a certain way, because I have degrees, because I stay at home, because I spoke up, because I write, because, because, because I don't know why, I decided to embrace it because it means to me, like Zora, I am authentic, brave, and assured of my art.  Self-confident and self-determined, I continue to strive through life enjoying every experience.

Zora gave us a blueprint, in a way, to that later-in-life exhale, that second coming-of-age that women often have to experience after husband, after children, after expectation.

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