30×30: Lesson 9: Dreams deferred
Growing up, I knew that my mother didn’t like three things: Brussels sprouts, centipedes in the downstairs bathtub, and our farmhouse. The first I couldn’t judge (I didn’t taste them until after I was twenty); the second made perfect sense; but the third I didn’t understand, for the house seemed just fine to me.
Build in 1855, our farmhouse was sturdy with tall ceilings, standing proudly on a gentle hill rimmed in by cornfields. As a child, I loved our wide green lawn with the mint tea that grew wild by the road and the pasture behind the wagon shed that rolled on as endlessly as a prairie.
But whenever I asked my mom if I could have friends over, she would sigh before saying yes. Maybe it was the ketchup-red paint that covered the farmhouse’s exterior brick. Maybe it was the cracked concrete sidewalk that ran along the front of the house and down to the road. Our hall entryway was lined with carpet the color of mold, and the plastic blinds in my bedroom sucked in and out with the winter wind, but I did not feel that any of this mattered. (A sleepover was a sleepover.)
I was maybe ten when the paint came off. A handful of years later, green shutters appeared on either side of the first floor windows. Slowly, there was a new garage, a new porch, and some landscaping, for I remember the blueprints. I was in grad school when my parents ordered kitchen cabinetry off of Craigslist, and suddenly — the day my mom called me to blurt out how, after 36 years of living in our farmhouse, she finally enjoyed cooking — I began to see.
What happens to a dream deferred? opens the famous poem by Langston Hughes. His point is that endlessly-postponed fulfillment (due to racism, in his case), doesn’t — and won’t ever — disappear. Sometimes I too find myself standing with my eyes fixed on the horizon, wondering when I’ll see glimpses of the dreams I’ve delayed, but in the case of my parents’ farmhouse and their wait for a home to be proud of, there was growth. And there was patience. And there is now joy.