Home alone, Kwame dives into his school books. The other kids are out in the late summer sun, dancing, laughing, playing but Kwame has other plans. They think he is a punk and that is OK, he does not care. Just like he does not care that his mom is at her second job when he gets home, or that sometimes she goes to his dad’s place overnight. He is twelve, he can take care of himself, at least a little and she loves him, or whatever. He has bigger plans. He has food in his belly and a roof over his head, every night, which makes him better off than some of his classmates. It is enough for his dreams to take root.
It started at the end of last school year, the end of the 6th grade and the teacher, not wanting to struggle to get the class to listen to him on a hot June day, decided to play a video. It was an old one, and Mr. Howe said it was his favorite when he was their age. The lights went down and everyone else just whispered to each other, but not Kwame, he watched intently.
He watched and listened as the video described mission after mission developing NASA and the Apollo program, culminating with that first mission to the Moon, and Neil Armstrong’s now immortal worlds. Kwame was sucked in and started dreaming big right then and there. He had always been a good student, mom and dad agreed on at least making sure he became that, but now he knew why he needed to be a good student, he was going out there, no matter what it took.
So he hits the books, especially in math and science. He hits those books and imagines a world with enough space for everyone because we are heading out there, where the universe is gigantic and there is so much for everyone. He hits the books and dreams of floating, far away from Earth’s pull. He hits the books and knows he can look down but not down upon, seeing everyone in the same light as those astronauts, and maybe showing his neighbors, the landlords and the cops, that we share such a small place. He hits the books, and knows his place.