I’ve had so many crossroads in my life, but the first in my adult life was when I was 22.
I’d just graduated with my shiny new degree and nobody could tell me anything.
Doors were going to blow wide open for me to strut through. Employers were going to fall all over themselves to pay me. I was going to do the whole “day job” thing from 9-5 and write the next great American novel by night.
My idea of “adulting” was voting, drinking wine by the gallon and living it up. The ladies on “Sex in the City” barely worked. I thought that was my future.
I wasn’t prepared for the truth that awaited me.
At 23, I had it all figured out. I could see myself standing onstage while someone presented me with a prestigious award. My hair would be in some sort of fancy ‘do, doing what it does. I’d wear a siren red or sexy black dress that everyone would be talking about and my makeup, without a doubt, would be on point. But the best thing about it would be my real smile.
I could see myself, vividly, living the dream.
Knowing my destination, or maybe it was even my destiny, I was hopeful and optimistic when I went back to my Harlem. I still remembered the grittiness, the sirens, the sense that there was no escape. But I also remembered the neighborhood poet, the untapped talent, the people of faith who took care of each other. Harlem was its people and I’d missed them.
When I left the first time, I was “Sandy,” the nerdy girl with the baby fat, bad attitude and one friend who’d put up with me. When I returned, I was “Sandra” coming back home with my shiny new degree, ready to conquer the world.
I had this walk back then, which I inherited from my mother. My posture was perfect and I would sort of glide across a room all strong and confident. I was weightless and couldn't nobody tell me nothing; I was finally grown.
To me grown was staying up as late as I wanted, eating junk food, legally drinking and doing me, whatever that meant.
Read more of Sandra's adventures here