"What Happens to a Dream Deferred?"
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"What Happens to a Dream Deferred?"

Or, How to Return Home

"What Happens to a Dream Deferred?"

Earlier this semester, I read Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun in my Gender and Theatre class. At the beginning of the play is an epigraph from Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem"; the poem begins with the lines "What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?"

Coincidentally, that same week, I had purchased a few plants to take care of in my dorm. Living entirely alone in a dorm room with only the noisy frat boys next door to keep me company, I realized I needed to take care of someone, or something. That's always been how I am: wanting to take care of someone. I excused this trait as a desire to just be a good person. But really, I realize now it had more to do with me wanting to avoid my reality.

I've done that in all of my relationships, romantic or platonic. I focus more on the other person because focusing on me is uncomfortable. Focusing on me means that I may have to confront my demons. It's just easier to focus on others. Even then, focusing on others leads to problems as well. I tried to focus so much on my last relationship that I didn't see the cracks. I thought that watering the relationship would help it grow; but it turns out, I watered it too much.

I returned to Penn State this fall with a desire to do something. First, it was because I was in a relationship and I had a desire to spend as much time with my significant other as possible. But when that ended abruptly, I then decided that I was going to throw myself into my work. I was going to go against the odds and be just as productive as if it were a normal semester.

I helped start a radio play company and we produced two radio dramas; I directed a staged reading of my play and had it livestreamed from an actual stage; I've been helping to devise a performance art piece for my old high school. I've done a lot this semester, and this is not me neglecting any of my accomplishments at all, but I don't know what any of it was for.

Was it for others?

Was it for me?

I don't know.

All the while, these plants that sat in my room did bring me some joy. I would wake up every morning, make my coffee, sit by the window sill as the sun poured in, and write a little in my journal. It was a beautiful sight, looking at these plants. I was so caught up in their beauty that I didn't realize they were dying. I had duped myself into thinking they were thriving, when in fact, they weren't.

And such was my semester. Thinking I was thriving because I was being productive (which I was) when, in reality, I was maintaining stasis.

Nothing was growing.

I was just watering and putting myself in the sun thinking that was enough.

And so, I decided to do something.

Sunday night after I finished my shift at work, I went home and packed up my entire dorm. I must have looked like a crazy person loading my car up at midnight in the loading dock outside my dorm, but the days of caring how people perceive me are LONG behind me.

I went to bed, slept for maybe 5 hours, and then got up at 7am. I shut my dorm door and locked it, closing it behind me. Then I drove the 90 minutes home through the mountains and stopped at Wegmans to grab my dad a coffee and my mom a plant.

I've been home for two days now, camped out in my childhood bedroom that looks a little different from the last time I was here in August. My parents finally sold my old bunk bed, so there is a lot more space. The walls are bright orange (although I am currently in negotiations to tone it down a bit with a new color). My library has grown considerably and I'm running out of places to put books (a good problem to have, might I add).

I've scheduled all online classes for the spring semester and so, I will not be returning to Penn State physically in the spring. I'm going to work a little, study a little more, and live in the moment. I may take some trips, try to exercise and eat a little healthier, and hopefully read for pleasure.

I don't consider this giving up. I was at school for almost the entire semester and left just two weeks shy of when we would have all been sent home. I've felt like I had no control over anything in my life this fall; so this is just me taking it back.

There's a lot unknown about my future, but also all of our futures. We're in the middle of two administrations, we've got a pandemic to take care of, and a whole hell of a lot of other issues to confront.

I'm excited and scared.

Did you really think I was going to write a piece without some sort of Sondheim reference?

In case you're wondering, my plants did not die. I handed them off to someone very special to take care of.

It's time for a new adventure. I'm still standing in the sun, even if from a different angle.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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