“I shall wrassle me up a future or die trying.”
– Zora Neale Hurston
I had the urge to sort through a cupboard full of books the other day.
“I Love Myself when I am laughing… and then again when I am looking mean and impressive” (a Zora Neale Hurston reader) was crammed way in the back, all bent up and neglected.
I was so happy to see it, to see her – to know in my bones that this was my invitation to reconnect with her. It felt like a perfect metaphor in that moment – the way the book was all shoved in the back. I can’t say why exactly, but it did.
You should know that I love Zora Neale Hurston.
She’s been my go-to badass off and on for ten years, ever since I read her book “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. (thanks to my teacher Francine Cary.)
One of my favorite lines from that book – one I often find useful in life is; “you got to go there to know there.” (every time i say it i get funny looks from people, and then i use it as my excuse to be like; Zora Neale Hurston yo. read that shit.)
And isn’t it the truth? You don’t really know a place – real or figurative – until you’ve been there.
Historically, I loved Zora Neale Hurston for her writing – for her way with words, and for her ability to describe things in a way that’s just exactly IT.
I loved that she rose up against crazy odds and used her smarts and her wits to build a career for herself.
I loved her work as an anthropologist and folklorist – she seemed to have this ability to become part of the fabric of whatever group she happened to be studying.
And then, of course, there was the dancing. Dancer (of my heart!), she was drawn to the dances and rhythms of the Caribbean. She did ethnographic work in Haiti, Jamaica and Honduras.
But the thing I really admired about Zora was that she didn’t give a fuck what people thought of her.
…because she wore pants, smoked cigarettes, had controversial political views, and loved whoever she wanted.
That was my impression anyway.
This book has been glued to my side ever since I found there in the back of that cupboard.
I know I’ve read it before (my old markings are there to prove it), but it’s like I’m reading her for the first time. I guess I have new eyes.
Anyway, I’m not sure what to say next. So many things are brimming up.
For now I just needed to begin. To begin making tangible this woman, and what she means to me.
I had the urge to open this book at random, to see what Zora has to say about things. This quote is the one I landed on:
“I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries.”
– Zora Neale Hurston
more Zora to come I think.