READ BOOKS AND DREAM OF LIFE'S ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES.
In 2008, after experiencing a major Riot while teaching sixteen year old offenders in the DC Jail, I received a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Recognizing my life’s complicated history, the Psycho-Therapist asked me to write a letter to the “little girl in me” and bring it to our next session.
Dear Little Girl,
Thank you for never leaving me. Thank you for comforting me through all the hurts while encouraging me to dream. You are my best friend and I love you. Make-believe and Pretend continue to shield you from a hurt-filled life.
“As a child, living on Pine Bluff’s East 6th street, you didn’t have friends. Alone, at the age of three, you walked four blocks to study piano lessons with Miss Hilda. When you were only four years old, you rode across town by yourself with strange taxi cab drivers to take tap dancing lessons.
Every Saturday morning, all by yourself, you rode the city bus to your favorite place—the Public Library. Books were everywhere, rows and rows of multi-colored, multi-sized books, each beckoning you to step inside their pages. Once inside, the pages took you to other worlds, to adventures far from your hometown.
On those Saturdays, after leaving the library, you walked west-one block to stand in front of the town’s finest home, the Simmons Mansion. Beautifully manicured evergreens edged the wide brick walkway leading to a carved walnut door highlighted with leaded glass. Four white, fluted columns, more than three-stories tall, framed the doorway.
One Saturday, after years of looking, you decided to activate the adventure. Marching up the long brick walkway, you stood on tiptoes to grasp the ornate brass knocker. “Boom, boom, boom”, the knocker sounded surprisingly loud as you waited for the door to open. Standing there, anticipating the adventure, not once did you consider the possibility of being turned away.
The mansion’s matriarch, Ms. Simmons, opened the door, welcoming you inside as though she had been expecting you. I remember every detail—how beautiful Ms. Simmons looked in a navy velvet dress with a strand of white pearls at her neck. Except for a few wisps of curious curls peeking around her pearl-studded ears, Ms. Simmons’ cotton-white hair stayed securely tucked in a classic bun. I remember the sound her sensible shoes made as they clicked rhythmically on the polished hardwood floor.
Straight out of a fairy tale, the elegant structure was more opulent than you imagined.... with uniformed servants, seven bedrooms with seven private baths, crystal chandeliers, even an elevator. But, the hand-carved staircase was the most awesome sight. The majestic staircase flowed upward to a landing with a massive stained glass window then split—one side going left, the other going right until the staircases merged at the third floor. The entire top floor featured a ballroom with balconies, a full stage, even an orchestra pit.
After touring the Mansion you glided to the bus stop like a queen. It didn’t matter you had missed four buses. Minutes before, you’d experienced a beautiful world with elegant people; a world far-beyond the wood-frame rental house at 1707 East 6th Street.”
Little Girl, you and I know each other well. We know that love comes and goes and sometimes those we love don’t love us back. But you are strong; you continue to live beyond the ugliness and unpleasantness. When you were young, even after you started school, you played dress-up for hours. Posing, pretending, dreaming and make believe, were your favorite pastimes. The image looking back at you in the bedroom mirror was always me, your best friend.