I am the sort of person who craves clearly defined boundaries, like
structures and lines with obvious spaces that need to be filled.
As the page transforms from white emptiness into a tapestry of color,
the background chatter and buzz of my brain is muted.
I do not scribble spontaneously, without a plan or strategy, but fill in
one block of white space after another methodically.
One even stroke after another,
the felt tip of my marker slowly consumes the empty boundaries
and breathes life into the page.
I am here today because one woman and then another
were deemed worthy enough to be taught how to read.
My grandmother, my mother’s mother, was raised in Běiliú, China.
It was uncommon to educate daughters when she was a girl, but she was lucky.
Her literacy allowed her to immigrate to America
where she had my mom, who then had me.
Without my grandmother’s literacy,
the digestion and regurgitation of letters,
I would not be here.
I come back to that fact, the root of it all,
when I find myself taking these gifts
of understanding and communication
I feel the presence of my ancestors in the letters I consume and
spit back out for the world to see.
Their literacy has vested in me
the power to write whatever story for myself
that I want there to be.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the confining emptiness of an unfilled page,
I see possibility and potential in my future.
I can rearrange the letters or the lines on the page
and make them take me wherever I wish to go.
I take comfort in knowing that I come from a line of women
who took the rules presented to them, and colored beyond those boundaries.
In moving outside of what was expected of them, they have given me a seemingly boundless space to fill with whatever colors or letters I desire.
They laid a foundation of intricate sketches
that will help guide me as I begin to
put down some lines of my own.
Creative Direction Izzy Jefferis and Logan Krohn
Words Alaina Baumohl
Illustration Elise Dean Wolf
Editor Meyme Nakash
Armour Magazine Season 26 — S/S 2021