I was a senior in high school when I started cussing.
It wasn’t by choice. It was by force. Because I was put so deeply and physically in a situation where I was left with no choice but to surrender, bow my head, cry and be defeated. Or fight.
I came home from school one day, fully happy and content with life. Holding on dearly with my college acceptance letter, my heart was so full. And my head, and my ego. I was full. And full of myself and I had every right to be.
I swung open the door to find my older brother waiting for me and smiled and grinned at him and screamed joyously, “I am going to FAMU!” He got no hug from me because he was FRESH from football practice with grass stains and sweat stains to match. It does not matter the amount of love I have for you, I believe in the power of expressing that love after a shower with double strength soap.
He grinned at me, eyes beaming, proud and told me to my face, “Girl, I am proud of you.” And I knew it, to the day I can feel the love of that moment…when all my senior year scatterings and my girly nagging and crying about grades and test all came together and poured itself into an acceptance letter from the only college that truly matter at me at the time.
I skipped, yes skipped off to my bedroom. I was dorky and giddy and yes very happy. And my oldest brother watched me in my happiness trot off to my bedroom with a proud, all-knowing look on his face and I basked in all its glory.
In a moment, a split second, the quickest step-ball-change, my feet came from underneath me and my body was in the air. I couldn’t even compute…where were my school books, my precious letter, the keys? Whoa, if we celebrating let me put my things away first! But no, my body was thrown across the room and landed square on the bed.
Are we play fighting? It’s been so long and not my thing but, uhm okay…I guess. I moved to get up and my brother threw me right back down. In the same place. Perplexed, I tried to explain to him, I ain’t really know the rules to this game. Time out….let’s talk it over first….let’s figure somethings out and then we can start over .
None of this mattered as a I took a full pillow in the face. One whack. And then another. I struggled to get up and was pushed back down. Up again. Down.
Then my younger brother came in. I guess he recognized a moment when his older sister wasn’t winning so he did what his heritage prepared him to do. He joined the fight. Against me.
He picked up the heaviest book out of my book bag, damn that Biology 2 book and began to swing on me. WHOP! or WHACK! Whatever it was, it stung me and all the years of me stealing his french fries and popping his head after a fresh hair cut came back to tussle me in my face. This was his vengeance, his moment of glory he had been waiting for. Hard knock blows with no repercussions.
And it stung. He was hitting me! My big brother was supposed to save me. He was fighting me. My little brother is supposed to advocate for my help. He was hitting me. And they knocked off my glasses. They was messing up my hair. They was hurting me and I am not supposed to be touched. I told them to stop, I screamed. I told them I would tell my mom. I kept talking and pleading.
It was the one hit from the textbook across both legs with a pillow in my face. That was the one that did it. That moment when I knew I had taken to much and it had gone to far. My head rattled. Nothing was making sense. And my big brain still had to apply for scholarships…I can’t afford to become senseless. It was that pillow I grabbed first and wrestled out of a 230 fully muscled bound brother. I cursed and was activated with the strength of all the “hell naws” and the “no you didn’ts” that stemmed from at least three generations within me.
And I swung back. Blocked a blow or two. Kicked that textbook and leaped on top of that bed. Ready to pounce. Who first, I wasn’t really sure because I couldn’t see without my glasses but someone was about to get beat today. Pillow in one hand, a clenched fist in the other…I was the original Avenger.
My oldest brother stepped back. He grabbed my younger brother who was probably still remembering how many McDonald’s french fries I really stole from him and how many times I made him sit in the back seat while I triumph in the front. My big brother paused for a moment and then in my blurry haze, I saw his eyes again.
They were proud.
My brother said then, “Now, you are ready for college”. And he walked off, my little brother with him.
And I sat in that room, tired, confused, discombobulated, but knowing….when it all came down to it…
I would fight.
I would fight for myself. And I would win.
Because that is who I was, despite the big essays and the high grades. The smiles and handshakes and networking, the acing on tests and winning awards. I know how to do the work, but end the end….no matter the setback. I would fight..
And I remember that story now, because I been getting my ass whooped lately. Like the last three years. Saying what is needed, trying to play the game correctly, asking for permission, praying and hoping….
Waiting for someone to save me. And acting like life wasn’t hard, it wasn’t a textbook full of lessons hitting me over and over and over again.
It is. It hurts. And dammit, I kept getting up to find new ways to get pushed down.
But, we done now. I’m not fighting back.
No more questions, no more excuses, no more…bring what you want. I have felt it before…but this time, you get me fully because I am worth fighting for. I am more than the countless times I fell down, I am the one who will always stand up.
We can battle…and you will be defeated. I know my worth and I won’t surrender it for anyone.
Now, I am ready for life.