On defining myself and growing up swirled: My First Words

Corporate Chics

 

My first love was words. The sweet taste rolling off my young virgin tongue. The sound, the rhythm, the feeling of wrapping myself up in them. The way my body jerked in the moment of…writing..

 
It was like a love affair. A secret wispy and whimsical passionate love affair. Me, and my words.
 
I started young and never let go.
 
I’ve learned over the years to expand-grow and have a fond love for the writings of my culture.
 
But my culture is swirled. Torn between the rugged sweaty, ripped apart, war torn hills of Africa and the green, lush plains and rainy shores of England.
 
…I fall somewhere in the middle.
 
Walking down the street the neighbors call, “ay was dat light skinned girl doin dawn heah?”
 
I live down here, sir.
 
At school, I answer the arithmetic on the black board streaked with dry white chalk, reminding me of myself: ” yes ma’am, perhaps the answer is 25?”
 
My friends laugh.
 
“who dis guhl think she tryun ta be? She a walkin round dis area like she a damn white girl!”
 
Because of how I talk. Because I go to school. Because my hair curls a little different than the rest of the girls. Because my skin color falls somewhere between a deep rich mocha and a sweet sunny olive.
 
I turn and look down the street at the community that has abandoned me. My eyes squint with the falling raindrops and I shield my hand over my face to keep the water off.
 
I hold my head up but I know I don’t belong here.
 
I take a deep breath and walk on.
 
“go won naw, git goin back to yer white mama, dis ain’t no area for you lil girl”
 
This is my home. This is my childhood.
 
“ay you, what is you”
 
Is me? I don’t understand why you are asking what I am?
 
I turn towards the eyes burning through me, the young girls with crying babies on their hips and I look at my naked hip and wonder if I really am different from them. I see the sneers in their face and can almost feel their clenching jaw, hear their thoughts, feel the deep pulsating of disgust through their veins.
 
I block it out and keep going.
 
Mama, I’m ready to go.
 
I turn, back tall and eyes forward, take a deep breath and take that first step. That first step that made me never look back.
 
The voices trail off and the last bit I catch “don y’all pay no mind to her, she thank she bettah den us… What y’all lookin at?! Go make me sum money….”
 
 
———————————-
My writing was inspired by a wonderful writer named Zora Neal Hurston. I never really remember when I stopped writing, but I remember when I was encouraged to start. I was such a little girl with so much to say. I have grown as a writer but I never forgot the way her words made me feel. Honestly, it wasn’t until this post that I was encouraged to emulate her writing style. This piece has given me chills writing it and re-lit a flame inside me that had died for such a while. Always be true to yourself, and never let anyone tell you that you cant.
 It feels so good to be reborn as a writer.
Here is her piece
The people all saw her come because it was sundown. The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky. It wasthe time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.

“What she doin’ coming back here in dem over-halls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? — Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in? — Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her? — What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal? — Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid? — Thought she was going to marry? — Where he left her?— What he done wid all her money? — Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs—why she don’t stay in her class? —”

When she got to where they were she turned her face on the bander log and spoke. They scrambled a noisy “good evenin'” and left their mouths setting open and their ears full of hope. Her speech was pleasant enough, but she kept walking straight on to her gate. The porch couldn’t talk for looking.”

 

– Zora Neal Hurston “Their Eyes Were Watching God”

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13 thoughts on “On defining myself and growing up swirled: My First Words

  1. I remember reading Zora Neal Hurston for the first time in college and getting chills in class. Reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was like a shot of adrenaline. Powerful writing. It’s like a window into a world you never knew about

    • thank you so much for that! her book “Their eyes were watching God” was actually written about two hours from where I was born and raised in Florida. There is so much history there and every year there is a ZNH festivle to celebrate her! it is a great book! 🙂 thank you for commenting!

  2. Indeed spoken with true grace! Your words emulate who you are and the grace of your character. Very special piece.

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