By Rachel Draker
Odds and Ends... its the title of a chapter in Anne of Avonlea and when I picked up my tattered copy the other day I noticed those three words were underlined. Why? Because my life is full of them. I stick out. I am Hawaiian/Irish/Native American.
I am a contradiction. When I was seven I asked my Grandmother how to describe my nationality for a project in school and she said, in a tone of reproach - "Just say you're made up of odds and ends and leave it at that."
"Because you you don't want them to think you're not one of them."
Them? My Grandmother constantly spoke about "them". I grew up in Southern California and was surrounded by certain kind of families that wanted their girls to become certain kind of women. Do you know one of those women? You know which ones...
When I was in college, I had a roommate whose life had been apple pie. She was one of those women. Her mother was a kindergarten teacher and her Dad was a Pastor and they lived in a big white house. She was a great girl and she even threw me my Wedding shower at her house. But all the while, every now and then I would get this feeling from her mother, a not quite genuine smile, a slightly wavering laugh and I would think, she knows. She knows I am not one of those women. I was raised by a single mom who got pregnant at nineteen and whose own mother wanted her desperately to get an abortion.
I never have met my father and I spent quite a few of my first few years of life in a hospital, where I fought against the Cancer that invaded my body AND for the first eighteen years of my life - try as I might to believe I wasn't - I was ashamed of not being someone else. Not being skinny, not being perfect. And then it happened... I was accepted into a ritzy college and first try out had my writing accepted at a writing conference. It was a collection of poems about me and my life. I remember after reading them, genuine applause and compliments rang in my ears. A nearby Professor stepped up alongside me and smiling, asked what the collection was called. On the spot, I immediately blurted out - "Odds and Ends". Afterward, I asked him if he thought that was a bad title since it was so different from the titles of the other writer's work. "But aren't you okay with that," he asked. I glanced up and if I missed a beat he didn't notice when I answered, "Yeah, I am."
It's been awhile since that fateful day and I have since married and have a ten month old son. I pursue writing every day and every time I call my Grandmother she tells me I'll never be one of those women if I stick with this writing thing, and now I just smile and answer back, "Promise?"