One summer, when I was 13…. 13 and dorky and completely unaware of myself, of the world, of anything and everything that would come to formulate my experience in my adulthood… 13 and suppressed by my own spirit’s refusal to leave the sanction of the small bit of innocence I managed to hold onto….
One summer when I was 13, and dorky, and happy to be taking in the trees of Yosemite National Park, I became aware of my body. In a giant, unwelcome flash of consciousness, I became aware of the meat on my bones. Dark and thick and filling up the clothing on my body like a butcher fills his casings with sweet, sweaty pork and beef.
I was walking across a bridge, I remember, that allowed for a cool river to run beneath it. People were splashing each other with the crisp, cold water on that warm day. It was when I was walking across that bridge that I heard it, for the first time… and not for the last time….
Oblivious. I was completely oblivious that these words filled with hate and disgust were being violently thrust in my direction. It wasn't until I heard a wave of laughter coming from the stream that I looked down and realized someone was saying something to me.
Pointing and laughing, they belted out once again…. Hey! Thunder Thighs.
I stopped, tilted my head and stared down.
A group of boys and girls, just about my age. Pale, thin, with hair looking like a field of wheat in the process of both death and rebirth.
I continued on, and they provided me with my personal soundtrack.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Watch out! Thunder thighs is on the move!
I stopped and looked at them again. They all stood, legs apart, grasping onto the air as if they were holding on to imaginary poles, waving their bodies back and forth as other spectators looked back and forth with embarrassed amusement.
I started moving again.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
And I kept on moving. Pulling at my shorts. Pulling at my shirt. Pulling at my pride. Pulling at my spirit that wanted to make one last getaway into the sky.
Later that night, I heard my brothers socializing around the camp fire. Thirsty for a bit of joy, I looked out of my tent and saw highlights of the same wheat fields that once waded in the water. I sealed the zipper, and with it, I sealed up my body.
In the coming years, I’d become increasingly aware of my growing body, maturing much faster than what seemed to be imaginable to me.
Pulling at my shirts, pulling at my pants, pulling at my spirit that wanted to fly away every time I heard a cry of mockery or lust as I walked down the street.
THUUUNDER THIGHS…. The memory echoed.
I quickly began to have a hungry desire to detach myself from my body. To fantasize about slithering out of it, discarding it in some putrid gutter where it belonged. I covered it, slathered it with men’s clothing too big. Hiding it from everyone. From myself. Covering mirrors in the bathroom after showers. Removing anything that reflected from my path so that I wouldn't catch the disease that was me.
For all the compliments and admiration I began to receive on the shapes my body made when I entered my 20’s, all that ever echoed back to me was…
Stop moving! You’re gonna kill us!!
I’m not exactly sure when it happened. Why…. But sometime…. Some short years ago, I caught a glimpse of my naked back in the mirror. I raised my arms, lowered them again. Raised my arms. Lowered them again. I became fascinated with the curves of my shoulder blades, the changing shapes of my back, my arms…
I felt ashamed to be so fascinated by these curves that invaded my body.
But fascinated I was.
I secretly explored them. Finger by finger. Scientifically examining just what all of this was that hung on to me like a thirsty child at his mother’s chest. How every last bit of it moved, flexed, flowed, bounced, was pulled and retracted, was pushed and pulled and beaten time and time again by the sun, the wind, the heat, the dagger words and that still clung to me. Thirsty.
Until one day I saw myself in my entirety. Completely bare. Uncovered and fully vulnerable.
I looked down at my thighs. My thunder thighs.
Thick and brown, propelling me forward every day.
Yes… there was thunder in my thighs.
Thick and commanding, ripping through the air. Announcing the coming of the storm that is me, and my body, and my power.
There was thunder in my thighs and I began to recognize that they did, in fact, make people shake.
Yes, children of 13, hold on to your imaginary poles… there is some mighty thunder in my thighs.