I feel like the new kid in school. As I look around the Studio 30 site, I am thrilled to be reading posts from so many accomplished writers, and I feel honored to have the opportunity to share my writing alongside them. And like the new kid, whom I was many times during my childhood, I hope to bring something new to the table, something fresh that the other kids will welcome, and say, “Yeah, kid. You’re alright.”
Atlanta has been my home for 19 years, and I love the richness of culture that beats in the heart of the city. The cultural quilt of the city is patched with squares of African American, bohemian, gay, Old South money, and global transplants, all bursting with their own cultural flare, but blending into one beautiful work of art. But, just on the fringe of this quilt, in the suburbs where I live, is a world of conformists, who strive for maintaining a status quo of white-ness, straight-ness, Christian-ness, and same-ness, that keeps people like me on the fringe, perpetually the new kid in school.
Being born and raised in the South, I lived and absorbed all things southern. Cornbread and beans cooked with ham hocks, speaking in that slow drawl that annoys Yankees, and that unspoken sense that the South is pure. And that different is wrong. Until I met my husband in high school, and my world view flipped upside down.
My husband is Indian, born and raised in Apartheid South Africa. Raised by a devoutly Hindu vegetarian mother, he gagged at meat, ordering Burger King Whoppers with all the fixin’s, minus the burger. His extended family emigrated from South Africa to Tennessee, but fiercely held onto their Indian community ties, not mixing with Americans. So, when I came into the picture, not only did I feel like a fish out of water among them, but I experienced a prejudice from white Americans and Indians alike, that pushed me to the fringe of everything I’d ever known.
Eventually we married and started having kids, but the picture of our family never quite matched that of everyone else’s in our church-dotted community. We are not Southern Baptists, but neither are we are Hindu. Our kids are not white, but neither are they Indian. We have never fit in, not really. And that is why I am a writer.
Writers are different. We share something that transcends race and religion and geography. We share the drive to expose the essence of who we are, without all of the decorations we adorn ourselves in for the sake of those around us. Whatever it is we write about, the result is from inside us. And that, to me, is the biggest gift I receive from being a writer.
So, now that I have introduced myself to your community of writers, I hope you will see that I have something new, something fresh, to bring to the table. I bring myself and my ideas, I hope you’ll tell me “Kid, you’re alright.”