I am a writer

I write about feeling not-quite-at-home—about the distance between how we’re seen and who we are. I believe that we are complex, and not always what we appear to be on the surface.

plotting stories

Born in Washington, D.C. to young Cuban parents, I grew up speaking Spanish at home, attending a French Immersion program at school, and keeping up with English somewhere in between.

At a young age I knew that even something as basic as counting can be done in different ways. Seventy-six is literally sixty-sixteen in French. It adds up to the same thing, but it twists your brain around a different direction.

All that twisty thinking tied me in to the three cultures, though some part of me always seems to trail behind, never completely inhabiting any one place.

I love words

Learning languages and devouring books has only intensified my love of words. For me, every word is multi-flavored. It carries notes of its parallels in other languages. It has roots, connotations, and history. It makes music: singing or tapping its feet. Every word resonates.

one of Papi’s photos of me

I make things

As a kid I made lots of things: puppet shows, board games with homemade dice, a doll house, Barbie clothes, oil paintings, and self-published books. The books were printed with a manual typewriter, illustrated with markers and bound by staples.

in my high school library

In high school I knit my first sweater, performed in some plays, and fell in love with jazz dance. I also decided that I might want to be a writer.

After two years of both English and creative writing with Ms. Ruddle, the most feared teacher in school, I was burned out, though I learned a lot. But I no longer imagined myself a professional writer.

College brought on a new creative phase. I found a home in the dance department and signed up for poetry seminars. I learned the importance of being present. I practiced seeing as an artist sees.

warming up for a college performance

After college came the challenge of making things while also making a living. I danced as much as I could: choreographing, producing shows, performing. Then I got a Masters of Architecture and started designing buildings. I kept dancing. I kept writing.

Somewhere in there I was lucky enough to fall in love and get married. I highly recommend it. Love warms your life like nothing else. 

Two amazing kids later, I shifted my focus to creating a nurturing home for our family. I work at food and conversation. I’ve become a finder of lost things. I continue to dance (though not so often now). My husband and I have renovated and added on to our home. (He’s a maker too.)

Now writing has returned, tempered by time, impatient with silence.

I am here

In all my wanderings, I have come to appreciate standing outside the circle, as well as standing inside. I know what it’s like to want to belong, what it’s like to want to stand out. And I know what it’s like to want both at the same time.

©2018 Naomi Smith

We are complex beings. And mysterious. Writing is my way of asking questions and discovering new things about who we are, and about how we live in the world.

So here I am, doing my best to live my moments fully.

And here you are, sharing some of your moments with me.

Thank you!

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