My great grandfather stands in the middle of the photo, and while I challenge you to find a lick of family resemblance, he passed his love of the Mississippi down to me and helped shape the woman I am today.
However, defining self happens in many ways:
Male or Female
Southerner/ Northeasterner / North westerner / South westerner / Midwesterner / Texan
Country of Origin
Blonde / Brunette / Redhead
Athlete / Couch potato
I’ll even go so far as to include: Human / Alien
The list could grow long…or not. It all depends on you.
During my drive to workout this morning, I slipped into the flow. I’m not speaking of the traffic kind, though I certainly navigated that one, too. One minute I was on Main Street headed north past the remains of a ramshackle old filling station with redbrick pillars supporting a sagging roof, and the next minute I eased into a hospital room with a patient in a coma watching a woman (my next protagonist) sort her way through anger, hurt and fear while trying to come to terms with her parents. She is bi-cultural and in her life, family is defined differently than the cultures where she plants a single foot.
In case you were wondering, lucky for me I arrive at my destination safe and on time. It’s a different sort of autopilot, but not one I recommend. Once there, I had a few minutes before my trainer arrived, so I hurriedly pulled out my iPhone and typed in notes – things I wanted to remember about my new character.
As I sit now, and transcribe those thoughts, emotions and sensations, I wonder if finishing Karen White’s book, The Beach Trees, yesterday, then last night watching Georgia Public Television – Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr., followed by the movie version of Charles Dickens’ final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood became the catalyst to take my plotting to the next level.
The protagonist in The Beach Trees is a New Englander transitioning to the south and experiencing a degree culture shock from the sounds of language, to humidity, to music and food. It’s a world very different from her northern one and causes her to feel as if she’s in a foreign country.
In the program with Mr. Gates Jr., three people who define themselves through their chosen faith, (however, their cultural dissimilarities were obvious by their physical appearance) learned their DNA test results link them in ways that made the world seem much smaller. On the inside, their differences appeared nominal.
And not to be left out, Mr. Dickens’ story about the Drood family drove home the saying, “You can’t tell a book by it’s cover” where in its conclusion it shows how three men (and one woman) bear absolutely no physical resemblance to each other, though, they are brothers born to the same father.
My protagonist will make a stand and define for herself who and what she is by using her own values, goals, and beliefs. The root idea of this story stems from the fact that I’d be a very rich woman today if I had a dollar for every time some ever asked me, “What are you?”
What stories do we tell ourselves about who and what we are?
So, I’m wondering, how do you define who you are?
I hope you’ll share.