I first started “getting money” when I was in college. It may sound crazy, but being in certain circles — even those that are perceived as positive — actually makes you a better criminal. While I was at school, I was offered what seemed to be the deal of a lifetime: $5,000 to drive a package out of town. It was a proposition I wouldn’t refuse.
I have to be honest. I wasn’t in dire straits. I didn’t come from a broken home. I wasn’t abused. Though I’d been exposed to the street life while living in Harlem, I didn’t start hustling by circumstance. It was a choice. I was a teenager enthralled by the toxic yet alluring mix of the street life. You know, the medley of close calls, quick cash and unfiltered fun. I had to have it. So I sought more.
At school I used my spidey senses to sniff out the other students who were getting paid. While most guys were recruiting girls to be their dime piece, my only goal was to get a piece of their dollars. I was more interested in being a business partner than a bedmate. Over the next two years, I amassed more money than most college graduates, but eventually I decided to come home and finish school. Back in New York, things went badly, and fast.
I found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend decided he wanted no part of fatherhood. Worst of all, as I was slowing down, the fast life was catching up with me. One afternoon when I went out to run errands, I felt someone watching me. I brushed it off and hoped for the best. My wish went unanswered. Shortly after, I returned home and three shots burst through my front door. As I heard feet clambering down the hall, all I could think about was my child.
For the first time in my life I was scared. The game was no longer fun. I quit. I carried what I could to a shelter intake center and waited two days for an assignment. Standing in the midst of squalor, rocking my Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci tote, all I could think about was how much my life had changed. Still, I was grateful to be alive.
During my time in the shelter, I was hit with the unthinkable: a 10pm curfew. After a few days of going back and forth to the Medicaid office, I began to notice women reading books such as “True to the Game” and “The Coldest Winter Ever.” I knew I had a story to tell and I began writing them while I was “stuck” in the house. Over the next two years I wrote and self-published my own book — I made the first 200 copies at Kinko’s and sold them all at the Harlem Book Fair.
That was almost 10 years ago. Today I’m promoting my third novel, “Allure of the Game.” I’m happy to say that my life has changed tremendously. I have two wonderful children and a husband who supports my dream. Best of all, my days aren’t filled with angst. My only hustles are moving books and the Mischievous Girls Foundation, which helps young women revamp their lives after tragedy.
Despite its rewards, my new life isn’t easy. Our kids are 10 and 2, so I had to learn how to balance the demands of motherhood to children in different life phases. In addition, I had to learn how to work as a team with my husband and demand the time I needed to work from home. My house is all about the two Cs: communication and compromise.
Now that I have a family and career, my world is complete. Best of all, no game has enough allure to take me away from my happiness.