Sunday, August 1, 2010

what happens to a dream deferred?

More than thirty years ago, Ben and I packed our suitcases and headed our little two-door, stick shift, non-air conditioned Toyota Corolla due east. I had never seen the ocean, so Ben was taking me to Virginia Beach, and to Chincoteague, a tiny island off the coast of Virginia. Soon after we made the big right turn in Breezewood, PA, we were in Maryland. The whole time we drove through the state, we remarked on how beautiful it was there, from the rolling hills to the Chesapeake Bay to the long, deserted beaches of Assateague Island. We agreed right away that we would love to live in Maryland. Over the years, subsequent trips through the state only reinforced that idea.

But we had a baby, and another baby, and we bought a house, then another house, and we just never seemed to make it out of Ohio. Tom grew up and moved to Chicago. Julie grew up and moved to Maryland. Here Ben and I remain, and up until recently it looked like we would always remain here. That is not the case, however, and it seems that sooner rather than later, we will be moving to Maryland. Ben has accepted a position with the company where he works in Laurel, Maryland.

As we were trying to make this difficult decision, a phrase kept running through my head: "what happens to a dream deferred?" and I knew I had to track it down. It is the first line of a poem* by Langston Hughes. Lorraine Hansberry took the title of her play, A Raisin in the Sun, from that same poem. The family in her play, the Youngers, have deferred their dream to move to a better neighborhood for many years, and when they finally have the chance to do so, cannot seem to agree on a course of action.

Ben and I are in agreement, however - we will be moving. It is an exciting and terrifying prospect, and when I wake up with the dogs at 4:30 a.m. there is no falling back to sleep for me anymore. It seems overwhelming in every way, but I just keep reminding myself that people do it every day and so can I. I will be posting about our move over the next couple of months, so buckle your seatbelts. It may be a bumpy ride.

*What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


Ben said...

"If you will it, it is no dream!"

Yes! The dream deferred no longer!

anne mancine said...

Ah, yes. Theodor Herzl by way of Walter Sobchak.

jamanci said...

hooray! i think moving is good for you--people shouldn't stay in the same place for too long. it gradually gets hard to imagine that you could live anywhere else, let alone that you might want to! but we always can, and we can always find great things in our new places that make it worth the effort.