The Bookstore

When most people ask me to tell them a little bit about myself, my first notion is to belt out “I was born by the river. In a little tent. And, oh, just like that river, I’ve been running ever since.” This is the opening verse to Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”. Although I wasn’t actually born in a tent, it was a hospital by the river, the lyrics have always held strong and true.

I was the second born to two young parents who were both high school dropouts and grew up in a very small poor village that sits on the Ohio River. A place where farmers are the money, and your last name means everything about who you are as a person.

A few things to know about parents who have babies young and hate school is that even though you are still pushed to do better than they did because they want more for your life, is that education and help with it are lacking. But even though things like educational help and money were lacking, my sister and I were also taught that a house rich in love was a rich house indeed.

The other good thing about having parents who were young is that they’re still dreamers and instilled in us to always dream ourselves and that we can be anything we set our minds to. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress, a singer, and a lawyer.

When you grow up poor other kids around you are always quick to point it out. If only I was given a dollar every time some mean kid (usually with an “important” last name) called me “Trailer Trash” or told me, I wouldn’t amount to anything. (because my last name was not “important”) I never got angry with them, I just assumed their house wasn’t rich in love like mine. It made me sorry for them instead.

Movies were the first stories I was really exposed to. Something I would later learn that more than often they came from books. My favorite movie as a child was “The Wizard of Oz” Because I didn’t have many friends, I would often spend my time playing outside going up and down my street pretending I was the main character in a movie and reciting the lines over and over ensuring that I had not only remembered the lines, but I got the emotion of it just right. I even taught myself how to fake cry. A tactic I found very handy when my sister had messed with me, and I wanted to get her grounded as revenge. We would be adults when my mom found this out.

Beaches starring Bette Midler was the first time I realized that I really loved singing and could actually sing very well. That year for Christmas Santa (my parents) went broke to get me my first Karaoke Machine. I sang Bette Midler’s “The Wind Beneath My Wings” so much I was begged to stop and find a new song.

I struggled to read in grade school, and I was put into an IEP reading class to help me develop what my parents couldn’t help with. By the time sixth grade came along, I was one of the better readers in class and it was here that I developed a love of books. That year, my would have been teacher got promoted to Superintendent of our school district, so we had 3 substitutes for the year. One of them actually helped the class put on their own production of the Wizard of Oz, one who saw my struggles and went out of their way to help me get better with school so I could have better success in school, and one who had an afternoon obligation on Wednesdays so the second grade teacher, who was free during that time, came up and read the entire “Chronicles of Narnia” series by C.S. Lewis. I was blown away. Captivated. And for the first time in my life, I felt empowered. I wanted more adventures; I wanted to read more and learn more. I wanted to be more.

I dove into Goosebump books after that and checked out as many books as possible from our school’s library. Back then, bookfairs were often the only bookstore a kid would encounter. When the bookfair came, I begged my parents for money to buy my own books. Even if it was just one book. Most of the time, however, there wasn’t money to spare, but I didn’t let that stop me from going to the bookfair. I walked each case full of books looking at all of the books, smelling the pages, and reading the covers, curious to see where those adventures would have taken me had I been able to buy them. I left the bookfairs empty-handed and ashamed I couldn’t take the adventures home. Always swearing that one day I would have a collection of books so big it would fill the library in Beast’s Castle in Beauty and the Beast.

Today I am a single parent to a bright beautiful boy. We live in the city a few hours away from that little village I grew up in. My parents still live there and have been married for 42 years.  I’m not an actress or a singer, but I still recite lines to movies, and I have given some of my best concerts in my car or while cleaning my house. I’m also not a lawyer, however, I will fight for what is right along with the best of them. I don’t have the sizable collection of books to fill that extravagant library from Beauty and the Beast, but I have a decent number of books for the both of us. We are always adding to our collection, making several trips to the bookstore together throughout the year. Skimming each section in search of our next adventure.

Written By: Tamecka Nave

Designed By: Breyanna Grizzard

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