Honorable Mention Essay: "The Sea That Separates Us"

by Denise Reid, M.A. ’10

“I want to be an author.”

My father was livid.

“An author? Authors don’t make money! The boy in your class who has been making his own little books can go be an author. You should say you want to be a lawyer.” Two years later I wanted to be a journalist, unearthing a similar response.

Perhaps that is why, when I applied to university, I labored over a law application when I really should have been applying to the school of mass communication. My father wished for me to become a lawyer. My father, who had declined to sit the Cambridge Advanced level examinations so he could move on to university. He told me later that he had believed the only things worth going to school for were the study of medicine and law; hence, he had been disinterested.

Instead, he took on a number of jobs until he ended up working in the bank. Through “smart work” he rose quickly through the ranks. He then sold insurance. The year I was born, he was ”Man of the Year.” Then he opened his own business.

He and my mother wanted the best for me. The best education meant private school. For thousands of dollars per term: three terms in every school year. I should be a lawyer.

It wasn’t awfully cruel of him to crush my dream so I could realize a bigger one. The dream of being rich. The happiness of affluence. The luxury of never struggling. The ability to board a plane for vacation in Europe, leaving behind the developing world if I desired. Writing would never afford me that luxury, but law would.

Eleven years later I was a journalist. Name on headlines of the Caribbean’s oldest newspaper. My father was proud. I was “rubbing shoulders” with the affluent. I had even met the former prime minister.
    Back in school completing my master’s, my father asked, “What will you do now?”
    “I think I will go to Belize. The culture is similar to ours, and it is so beautiful.”
    “Have you heard the saying, a rolling stone gathers no moss?”
    “Yes. It is stupid. Why would a stone want to gather moss?”
    “You need to settle down and establish yourself.”

He would love to see me working in Manhattan. Impeccably dressed. Rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers of the capital of the world.

But after two years, I long for warm climate. I wish to walk through the market buying melons, speaking to the natives in Spanish.

Our worlds are different. His of practicality, mine of possibility. But my father is getting old. I will search for a job in Manhattan.