Who am I today? I am not the image that states back; I am not even my own voice.
I am a culmination of experience and interactions; I am constantly evolving.
Today, I am in fourth grade—Mrs. Reed’s class. I have dodged the oral book report for as long as I can. Mother reads the note, irritated with me—or was she understanding? Memory is cloudy, gray, with streaks of purple. She chooses a book, reads it, primes me. I do not remember reading it myself: Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors. Yes, the story is familiar.
My name is called. Terror leeches on to me. I walk up to the front of the class, clutching my book tightly. I look out at a blur of faces, my legs begin to lock; they are tight. I am a wooden doll. I hear murmur coming from my mouth, a small din of bees in my head. I am in the dark. I have gone deep inside and cannot see, hear, speak. I cannot even see myself; my awareness has slipped away, slipped off to somewhere far away. I begin to feel my legs again and I see the faces in focus now—staring back.
I must be finished. I walk away with great difficulty because—who knows how long I stood up there in the land of nowhere. I went to my seat and hoped to never face a moment like that again. The dark veil…thick laced black curtain would stay. It would take a lifetime to find the light again.
But here I am, legs free, voice free—my words, my voice—with the mark of time and all who have crossed my path—the voice of one; the voice of many.
Originally jotted down in my notebook June 6, 2009
I didn’t change anything about this piece from when I originally wrote it, except a few minor technical edits. I feel that there are still changes I can make, details I can add, yet I want to keep it this way because it’s how it flowed out of me then and marks a very specific time in my life when this childhood memory resurfaced and came out in this particular way.
Rebb reading The Voice: