BY: Tim Storey

I grew up in a house where there was not a lot of magic. We didn’t have a lot of money, my parents were not well-educated, and there always seemed to be mayhem. But there was something else that contributed to the madness for me, and it would take my father’s death to discover the reality of my existence.

I felt slightly off-kilter in my family. A lot of it stemmed from my skin color. My mother, who is Spanish, has a light olive complexion. My father was also light, but undoubtedly Spanish. My parents and siblings had green eyes and silky hair. Then there was me. Not dark, but definitely not like I was just Spanish, with brown eyes and hair that refused to lay down.

At least once a year I’d go with my siblings to Seattle to spend time with my cousins. My aunt was a Latin lady who married a black man who was quite dark, so their kids were mixed. Any observer would see they looked like me, but I was oblivious. I loved going to Seattle because my eyes were opened to a black world—hip music, cool dances, flashy jump rope. When I was five or six, these older cousins said to me, “Timmy, you’re one of us, but we can’t tell you the whole story.” 

When I was eleven, I was devastated when my father was killed. His death shook our family to the core. A few months later, my aunt Grace visited us in Southern California. “I’m going to tell you something,” she said to me. “You deserve to know.”

She laid out the dramatic origins of my life. She said my mother and father had had some rocky times. Rumor had it my father had gone outside of their marriage, so my mother decided to respond by doing the same. My mother had a relationship with a light-skinned black man. When I was born and looked like I was part black, there was a family crisis. 

I later confirmed what she told me was true—the man I had presumed was my father was not. While the news was extremely unsettling, it quickly blossomed into an awakening. I had discovered in an instant that I was the family’s black sheep. But rather than devastate me, the news liberated me. Now I understood why I was excited by the music and dancing I saw on Soul Train while nobody else in the family seemed to care. I was starting to discover some magic in my origins. However, I still carried a heaviness for a long time. This happens when we have painful incidents from our childhoods that we’d rather forget.

We are born with magical thinking, and it’s something we seek throughout our childhood. We pretend we are Superman and Wonder Woman because we recognize in them a power to make miracles happen. We have the power to push ourselves out of mundane existence and escape the messy and the madness. All of us have the Miracle Mentality in our DNA, but we often have difficulty recognizing it. It took years for me to start understanding myself. I had to be brave enough to start anew.