Langston Hughes wrote and presumably pondered, “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 does it explode?” My response, I wish!
In my experience, dreams deferred do not make much of a stink, or really much of an impression at all. I only came to this realization recently, but maybe I’ve known for much longer. Let’s take for example my fleeting dream of Haitian residence.
Sometime in the spring of 2017, there was a moment (or a collection of moments) where I became fed up with the pace and consumer habits of my life. Being an educated black millennial in D.C., on top of a new mom makes for a feeling of needing to “keep up” in a most exhausting way. With this, I convinced my partner that we should pack up, leave D.C., the U.S. entirely, and move to Haiti for a year.
My thinking was that we would serve (strategically of course), as to not take ourselves too far off track –he could continue his work in the mental health arena and me in the education sector. And in the process, serve our spirits, with a bonus of making our one-year-old daughter, bilingual!
The dream was alive. I spoke to several people about it, including a family friend and doctor who works in rural Haiti for months at a time each year. A colleague spoke of six months when she and her husband went to Mexico City to serve, learn Spanish and take a much-needed break from the rat race of their lives. Life abroad was in my view, it was possible, it made sense, we have ties to the country because my partner’s parents are from there, own property and frequent the nation. But as the days and weeks passed the dream lost traction, in my conversations, and in my mind. I couldn’t say why. And when my friend (the doctor’s wife) asked about it months later, I felt like a fool for making such a big fuss about my big dreams of relocating. I should have known it was fleeting at best. In retrospect, it saddens me somebut honestly is not outside my norm. I dream in deferment.
That example is just one of many, as my dreams are in a constant state of deferment. This means that my dreams aren’t active, instead,I have dreams with the very intent of postponing them. It’s unconscious, I guess, but I subscribe to it without angsts or much question, I hate it, but it’s undeniably real.
What then does this say about me?
Of course I would like for it to say that I am self-aware in the way that others aren’t, that this position allows me to live without the stressors of unrealistic standards set by social-media-captured-lives, or that unlike all the other millennialsin D.C., I do not feel the need to compete in the rat race for money, titles and best brunch insta-stories. None of that is true, nor is the exact opposite true. So do not imagine me sitting home all day in a bonnet and sweatpants watching Real Housewives of somewhere.
Fortunately, real life often happens somewhere in between. Meaning, I dream about elaborate family vacations and end up at my mom’s house sipping lemonade I didn’t pay for. I dream about post-baby snap-back and mostly eat too many cookies. I dream about moving to Haiti as I write this essay from my over-furnished, overpriced, D.C. apartment.
I wish Langston Hughes was right, that deferred dream be so repugnant that they cannot help but garner attention. But I think maybe deferred dreams get so little attention, they hardly noticed at all. And maybe some, or many, dreams are bread in deferment.
Summer, 29, lives in and explores DC with her family. She is a full time educator. Creative writing is new for her but she hopes it's the catalyst for new and exciting things to come.