To Georgia Jade, On the Occasion of Our Birthday, Year Six

“I cannot perch among those who think that I am broken.”

Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

 

Did you notice? That thing that happened today? It’s kind of a big deal. Adults will argue over its significance. Nice people will say mean things. Though you are small, you are above all that. And you will never forget the name.

Kamala.

I’m old. Today, I turned 52. And this has not been an easy year. Since I saw you for the first time at the reunion at your home last year, I’ve had a couple tough surgeries, a very long recovery, and am still unable to get out and work like I used to. I tutor adults, helping them learn how to read, and that helps pass the time. I’ve also taken up playing Animal Crossing: New Horizon on my Nintendo Switch. I have a 5-star island and residents who say they like me, so I am happy. I am easy to please. I am a kid again.

I have always been a kid at heart. Don’t tell anyone, but I really love reading books written for younger people. YA, or Young Adult fiction, as they call it. Think Harry Potter or books by authors like John Green and Rainbow Rowell. But my favorite of series of books is Seraphina by a British author named Rachel Hartman. It’s got dragons, and humans, and half-dragon-half-humans, and some magic. Mostly, though, it illuminates the hearts of the marginalized and outcast, who are different from the crowd because of their bravery.

Though this has been a very difficult year, it has been a year of courage and bravery for many on the fringes of our society. In the face of oppression and open hatred, many have found their voice and now use it to speak up to those who would rather they not speak at all. People who have proclaimed that they will no longer be satisfied with a seat at a table among those who openly despise them.

This is my wish for you.

It may be a little too early for life mottos or mission statements or mantras, but words lead to thoughts and thoughts lead to actions. I hope that as you grow, you do not waste time trying to earn a spot among those who would only look down on you. Who find no problem with seeing you as less than. It will take you a lifetime to learn the nuance of resistance, but a clear and firm bedrock can be built upon. So, Seraphina and I give you these words:

I cannot perch among those who think that I am broken.

Write it down on a piece of paper and hang it in your room. Read it every day. Talk to your parents about what it means. Explain it to others in your own words. You, Georgia Jade, are not broken. You are a whirlwind of resistance and revolution and revelation. You will say and do things that we have never imagined.

You are beautiful and you are fire . . .

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