Her Voice

A Letter to My Teenage Self During Her Hoe Phase

Dear You,

Dalton.


Khalante.

Khlante's good friend CJ.

Calil.

Denzel.

Some white boy - maybe Tyler?

A more familiar white boy, Andrew.

Two boys in one night.

Two at a business competition, separately.

You will sit, at seventeen, assigning each boy that has been inside you a finger. You soon run out of digits, and return to your left thumb to reassign.

You will know the gynecologist at the free clinic you're going to tomorrow will ask you how many. You have insurance, but you're going there so your parents will not ask you, “How many?"

By the age of eighteen, roughly fifteen boys will have known you.

Known you more than six inches deep.

They will have gathered data from late night rounds of 21 Questions, known bits and pieces of the pidgin English your parents speak, they will have known that either because of their jealousy or your selfishness or some combination of the two, you just couldn't seem to keep a girlfriend.

Three were boyfriends.

One was a best friend.

One was a lover.

The rest, buddies, desires, escapes, f*ck-it-I'm heres or f*ck-it-why-nots.

These boys and their collective knowing will be a secret you keep until your quarter life, because teenage girls are known to be fast, but the way you broke the speed limit was nearly felonious.

And I mean, if your body count is news, your criminality is too.

But like crime, the shaming of adolescent sexuality a construct, one well-intentioned at best and harm-inducing at worst.

You did not f*ck out of a place of deep despair or desperation.

You did not f*ck because your father loved you wrong or not enough or not at all.

None of the normal tropes of teenage angst spread your legs.

You f*cked because you could.

You f*cked because you liked it.

You f*cked because it was the one thing you should not have as you filled your life with shoulds.

You climbed out windows and off decks, into Ford Explorers and into unmade beds to make a life outside your accomplishments.

As you racked up A's and awards, theatre roles and presidencies, you just wanted the freedom to be as average as everyone else was allowed to be.

You will hear people talk about their hoe phases as sin and scandal and it will make you cringe.

Your hoe phase was an enlightenment.

You learned who you let in you could hurt those on the outside.

You learned that sex could leave you feeling like a goddess or like nothing at all.

You learned to be vocal and unabashed and relentless in your pursuit of satisfaction.

But perhaps it was a miracle that you walked away from fifteen boys physically unscathed, unscarred, un-scorched.

If you could do it again, you'd have slid two or three more condoms down three or four more shafts.

If you could do it again, you would have needed to procure a pack less of Plan B.

You'd treat your body like the fragile thing you know it to be now.

And, on an unrelated note, you'd skip out of Andrew's uncircumcised, pink peen.

But because you did the best you could while the world told a black girl to be sexless and sexy and available and unattainable all at once, because you did the best you could when dating was prohibited, while hormones flowed uninhibitedly, you, at your quarter life, will be okay.

You will be better for your hoe phase.

Love,

You.

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