Welcome to the Bricks

January 21, 2017

 

Hey Brickies, (Sorry if this word is offensive in some other language, but I read it somewhere that people respond more positively when they're lumped in a group and said group is given a name) just dropping in to say welcome and I hope the seats are comfy! Please help yourselves to refreshments, and oh yeah, an explanation as to why this place is called The Bricks!

 

To most people, bricks are just hard blocks of concrete that seemingly have no significance in the literary world, aside from being a fixture to any given urban backdrop, or album cover from the 90's. But, contrary to popular belief, bricks are much more significant than that--at least for me they are.

 

I grew up in a small town just north of Galveston Island, called Hitchcock, Texas, and there wasn't much there as far as tourist attractions or amusement parks. In fact, there was only one grocery store, and even it is no longer in operation, which is partly why I no longer live there. A girl needs her milk and cookies. Kinda like an emergency, if you get my drift. In any event, before I moved away, only a few miles out, I learned quite a few things growing up in Hitchcock in an apartment complex that most locals frowned upon. Known in the area as The Bricks, the Independent Missionary Village was well known for drug trafficking, prostitution, and a constant feel of what it meant to live inside the struggle. From the outside looking in, it was quite possibly the worst place for a person, let alone a child, to grow up in. But as is usually the case, it wasn't all bad. I learned lessons from this place and the people in it, that no school or university could ever have taught me. I learned that a single mother of four, five, or even eight children, can find support in the open arms, and often kitchen, of her neighbor who had a man to help raise her kids, but understood the struggles of her neighbor who over the years became more like her sister. Through the eyes of neighbors, relatives, and friends, I learned to define love in a different, more complex way, than people from outside the black iron gates of The Bricks. To most, love was a given; a simple emotion that wasn't necessarily observed from more than one angle. But in The Bricks, love was an action; a life sustaining motion that was rarely acknowledged verbally, but always present in some form.

 

For example, if a certain resident's electricity was shut off due to none payment, rather than sit in their apartment sulking and crying, said resident would get together with another resident who owned a barbecue pit, and grill all the meat from their freezer before it spoiled, and have a damn block party. Or if a child missed the school bus and their parents didn't have transportation to take them to school, it wasn't uncommon for the child to go to a neighbor who had a set of wheels and ask if their parent could borrow the car to take them to school. And it's fine if you read that last one again. I'm aware that borrowing a whole damn car isn't the norm for most folks, but it was the norm in The Bricks, which is what made this place so special to me. That was what love meant.

 

I know you're probably still wondering what the hell this has to do with me writing romance novels, but the connection is coming. I promise. Like in the next sentence if you keep reading. It takes passion and determination to leave a place like The Bricks, and become someone different. Not someone better or someone ashamed, but someone different who understands that the children who are growing up there right now need to see an example. They need to know that where you start  doesn't have to be where you finish, and can in fact be fuel for a very bright future. My armor, while living in The Bricks, was my imagination and its ability to take me outside the walls of my Mama's apartment and into places that I'd never traveled. I played with my Barbie dolls, creating characters and story lines for each of them, and became so involved at times that I didn't even go outside and play. At the time I had no idea where all of that was coming from, and even understood that just because my Barbie was on stage (a K-Swiss shoe box) singing Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All", that didn't mean that it would ever happen for me. But now, at the ripe old age of thirty-six and nine books into my authorial journey, I am fully aware that imagination and reality are always connected, even if it takes decades for their purpose to come to fruition. And I'll always have The Bricks to thank for that!

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