this is the 'remember' prompt that i pulled from The Autobiography Box -
Create a word portrait of yourself. Using as much descriptive language as possible, draw a picture of yourself, including physical attributes but also the things that have given your face character what you inherited from your parents, what life and time have done to alter it.
fitting that i should pull that one, as i've been thinking a fair amount about my body lately. i feel a bit as if i don't know this body anymore.
i look at my hands on the keyboard. they're reasonable hands, fingers not too short or long, altho i'll never play piano; i think my thumbs belong to someone with strong character. i don't really know what it is that tells me that, but that's how they seem. i'm wearing a chunky silver ring on my right thumb, and a silver clasp band watch dangles off the wrist just below it. my wrists are skinny (some, in a more flattering mood, would say 'delicate'). wrap the middle finger and thumb around the other wrist, and i can touch the thumb joint. they haven't always been good to me, these wrists. RSI bad enough that i couldn't lift a coffee mug, and frustration. i baby them now, with ergonomic wrist supports and trackballs and stretching every so often.
there's a large freckle on the back of each hand. not mirror images: one by the wrist, one in the middle, by the vein that shows more on hot days than other times. i don't remember them always being there, but then again, i can't remember a time that they weren't. i've always had freckles here and there. one of the gifts of the Irish Tan. but i have this idea that my skin was unmarked once. i could look at the back of my hand and see ...nothing. no freckles, no scars, no wrinkles. the changes sneak in, and one day you do an unconscious inventory; it's like opening a brand new map.
i glance down at my hands again, and wonder at the netting of near wrinkles - not quite, just that the cross hatching is more pronounced than i remember. an image pops into my head: sitting on a boulder in the woods with a friend, peeling a pomegranate. i didn't stay in touch with jane, but that image has stayed with me. something about the exotic-ness of the discovery - i'd never had a pomegranate. and i can look down at the young me, holding the fruit split open to blood red seeds. are there freckles on those hands? i don't know. i don't think so.
there are freckles in unexpected places these days. they aren't sun freckles; they're old people freckles. showering one morning, my hands ran over a bit of sandpaper. examination: not quite freckle, not quite mole. a quick visit to the dermatologist, fears allayed. but now i see them everywhere. they're sprinkled across my stomach. hmph. stomach that used to be flat and silky soft, with just one mole between navel and breastbone. now, it's a little poochy. i distinctly remember the first time i felt that little roll, sitting down. odd sensation, and i thought 'where did all that come from? or - where did my stomach go? this isn't mine.'
and the pooch shows up in other places. the thighs, so, fine. i expected that. i got my dad's crappy teeth, bad eyesight, wonky knees, and (apparently) tempermant. now i discover that i have his mother's thighs. this makes me angry, as i never wanted to have anything from doris. short, thick, mean little woman. i work, irregularly, at keeping it at bay, but the genes will out eventually. and back fat... don't even get me started. just enough that there's a little pooch over the edge of the bra strap. bleach.
mind you, i don't look at this body and think it's fat, not by a long stretch. it's just not the one i started with anymore.
but still, the only person i can see when i look at this body is me. i've been told i look like my sister. we have to tell our baby pictures apart by the furniture, so i suppose it's true. but as much as we're alike, that's how much we're different. i see her when i look at her, and me when i look in the mirror. a little, i see the people in my past, but not too much.
the hands, the hands... they are the part of me that is most 'me'. when i talk, they dance thru the air; i can't talk without them. friends have forced me to sit on my hands, and conversation has stopped. every so often, i catch the arc formed by that space between thumb and forefinger as i emphasize a point, and i'm happy. somehow, in that arc, is the essence of me.