I was born on Saturday, June 3rd, 1972 in the San Jose Hospital, San Jose, California, six minutes before my twin brother, Kwan. We were the last children born to my parents, Lumon and Jacqueline Morrow, joining two older sisters, Licia and Carla, to complete our family.
This manuscript is an exact, word-for-word transcription of my hand-written diaries kept from 1984 to 1990, with a few entries from subsequent years in the 1990s. Sentence structure, grammatical, and spelling errors are unchanged, except for the purpose of clarity, and are reflective of my creative leanings toward writing early on.
These diaries are an unflinching, brutally honest documentary of my carefree, yet sometimes tormented, adolescent years, chronicling events of my life from age twelve to eighteen. My parents were both born, raised, and educated in the state of Alabama, products of the turbulence of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era who fled the South in search of the greener pastures and endless opportunities offered on the West Coast, settling in the Bay Area in 1967. Each summer, the six of us piled into the family car for the annual pilgrimage back to the South on a three-day road trip, which was the highlight of my youth. Thus began my love affair with the South, where I have lived since I left California in 1994. But California is the place that shaped me, showing me the endless opportunities my parents had gone in search of before I was born. I will always be a Californian, regardless of where I live.
And so the four of us were raised in the Silicon Valley before the Digital Age, at the end of an era, when technology was simple in comparison to the twenty-first century. I love my generation (Generation X), and believe these pages capture the magic of our time. This is my coming of age — much of it more than I’d like to share; yet I feel compelled to do so, anyway.
We were a middle class family who had no idea how hard our parents had had it growing up. We had everything we wanted and took it for granted. I had no idea what my father was talking about when he’d ask, “Do you think money grows on trees?” It may as well have, but why was he asking such a silly question, anyway?
In spite of the comfort I was raised in, I had my own set of challenges to overcome. My parents were, in many respects, overachievers, driven in part, perhaps, by the difficult circumstances they’d faced in the South, but they were also just innately brilliant and intellectual; both had long careers in technology. I inherited my parents’ natural curiosity and intelligence, but severely lacked their discipline and devotion to formal education, which made me the black sheep of the family (even though I was my father’s favorite). Beginning in high school, I struggled to do what my siblings did so easily, yet I could not get the grades they seemed to get so effortlessly. This made being rebellious the clear choice for me; I was good at being bad. (But still very much within the confines of my sheltered existence.)
My diaries clearly illustrate how I went from an insecure, awkward seventh-grader to a confident, at times tenacious, certainly restless, cocky, and rebellious high school senior. I also went from ugly duckling with braces and neck-gear to pretty and shapely, boy-crazy, sex-obsessed, and hopeless romantic. My sexuality was off the charts, and parts of my diary read like a steamy erotic novel, detailing the loss of my virginity and other sexual experiences in vivid detail — readers may be surprised by the sensuality and level of intimacy possessed by teenagers.
My relations with my siblings were often rocky, and my childhood experiences with them are a huge part of who I am today. I was the little sister, not quite old enough to “get” my older sisters, but I studied them and probably matured faster as a result of my careful observations. My twin brother went from being my constant companion to my sworn enemy as we weathered puberty and the loss of our innocent years, and at thirteen I felt so isolated and depressed that I actually contemplated suicide.
These diaries are compelling enough on their own; however, what makes this coming-of-age story different from many others is that it gives the reader a glimpse of not just an average, American middle class girl’s life — it highlights the fact that my life was that, and I’m Afro American. When The Cosby Show came on, I saw my family on television, and didn’t understand why the mainstream media said the show was an unrealistic depiction of “Afro American life.” It was realistic; it was my life! Everywhere I looked I saw successful Afro Americans, and the ethnic diversity of the Silicon Valley firmly established my views on ethnic and racial equality. If racism was a thing, I was blissfully unaware of it — that is, until much, much later. Where I lived, cultural diversity was the norm, and it was celebrated.
So, in 2016, and within a country still struggling to emerge from a history of ethnic, cultural, and racial division and inequality, my story may just demonstrate how very much we all have in common. We’re all Americans, and each of us has a story. Here’s mine.