“I thought you was older. So mature for your age.”
— General Adults
As a shorty, I was always hit with the notion that I was “growing up too fast.” This could be my walk, becoming a “switch.” Or pop, lock, and dropping my Laffy Taffy at family functions, asking for attention. Here I am thinking that MFs love me.
I was old enough to understand that I was growing titties and all the women in my family thick, so of course an ass is coming. My mother loves to dance. My aunt was a fashion designer. And my other aunt taught me how to walk with the weight of school and books on my back. And America’s Next Top Model had a black woman. All these things were my favorite things about being a girl. ’Cause all the other things I wanted to be—things that made me a girl—didn’t fit.
I fucked with the boys. They didn’t worry about how old I was, and they knew that touching my ass was instant-dead. They wanted to know how fast I could run or how much money I had saved. Women wanted to know if I was kissing yet, if I had a boyfriend.
In puberty, I didn’t know a body was a timeline of experience. I didn’t even know what a body could do, other than get a scarred knee or push out glass. I was getting blamed for doing shit that my body didn’t even know existed.
My body spoke for me before my mouth could.
You know that scene in Forrest Gump, when three white boys throw rocks at Forrest’s head as he and Jenny are taking a walk? Forrest still has braces on his legs, but Jenny tells him to run. So Forrest takes off like 12s was on his ass and then watches his braces fall off. Well, that’s what my body did with the term “growing up too fast.”
I was taking on responsibilities I didn’t know were mine. I took the alcoholism in my family, the calls from the Department of Children and Family Services, the religion, the deaths, and the bullying—and I put all that in my walk. My hips became haughty. My neck rolled when I stomped the streets. I had attitude in my spine. I moved as the world made me: fast. My body spoke for me before my mouth could. I wanted to move with grace and not stumble or trip. I knew I was being watched, and people were waiting for me to fall.