Have you ever looked at your skin really closely?
Up close and personal, yet without judging it, picking on it or picking at it, without noticing what is wrong with it but paying more attention to what is right with it. Just looked at it and admired it from the perspective of everything which it holds within it, the purpose it serves, the job it does, what it goes through every day on your behalf, what you put it through and expect it to put up with.
Have you noticed its nuances?
Or perhaps seen a scratch or a bruise and wondered… when did that happen? And look how it heals itself without interference…
Skin just gets on with things, with or without our participation.
It quite likes being cleaned, pampered, nurtured, but if we neglect it… yes, it can get a bit rough or dry, or sore… but it accepts it and tries to handle itself rather gallantly.
Sometime people like to draw on their skin in permanent ink. Create designs or write upon it, to express something… mark a moment, remind themselves of something or someone.
I’ve always wanted one but could never decide what one I wanted. What if I got something and then wished I hadn’t for many reasons… such as the tattoo artist did it wrong, spelled things wrong… and then what? Perhaps I could get my money back, but that’s not really the problem, is it, once the ink is inked.
When I saw the film Memento… I loved it, more so for the fact that skin was being used to hold onto to memories. Skin was a notebook, a sketchpad, a place to write what you wanted to recall and keep with you, close, here… so I can see it and be reminded of what I might forget.
I saw a TV series recently which spoke of the transience of memories which we don’t use, poke and prod regularly, keep alive… how the mind slowly deletes them because we’re not using them so it figures we don’t need whatever it is but we do need that space in our memory banks, don’t want to take up RAM, or whatever, so it gets rid of it… it was a slightly flawed idea, as some memories which we don’t use can stick around anyway… however it was not entirely incorrect.
We do forget things… and may have a hard time remembering.
Dare I admit that I didn’t know my own birthday until I was about seven or eight. Birthdays happened for me… I just didn’t know what was happening enough to bother recalling it as a significant date. And sometimes I just didn’t want to remember that day as it was often used for things which were unpleasant. Not always, but… enough to not want more of it or recall it.
People would ask me – When’s your birthday? – all excited and stuff… and I wouldn’t know. They seemed to think I was weird for not knowing, what was the matter with me, and they placed importance on the remembrance of such a date, so I finally got my act together and made an effort to recall this date.
Perhaps I should have tattooed it on myself and just shown people my tattoo when they asked… but I was a bit young to do that kind of thing, and I was freakish enough without being a tattooed child.
When I was about six, at boarding school, at the local church jumble sale… I bought a toy gun with my pocket money. It was quickly confiscated by the teachers for reasons still unclear to me. My argument to fight the confiscation was that a church shouldn’t sell such things (especially to a child – imagine selling a toy to a child!) if it didn’t want me to have it. It must have been a set up between the church and my boarding school to weed out the subversive element.
It’s strange that she can’t remember her birthday… maybe she’s a plant, a member of a sleeper cell of some nefarious group who plans to take over the world with its naivety!
My mother used to like to tell a story about my birth which I never quite understood. It seemed meaningful to her, it meant nothing to me other than it focused on my skin in a way which struck me as bizarre.
She told of how my paternal great grandmother toasted my birth with the blood of a recently deceased (killed by hand by her) chicken poured into a glass… no, this was not a Voodoo thing… and made some sort of exclamation about how the family had finally been blessed with a white child.
Yes, that sounds racist and was racist… I’m not going to make excuses for it. Racism was an undercurrent in my family, on both sides of the race divide. It was also a part of my heritage as my father’s family hails from a part of Italy which the rest of Italy… hates and regularly makes internal racist jokes about it which most of Italy finds funny. The funny thing is some of the jokes… are a truth said in jest.
I was a strange mix… I’m still very much that, perhaps more so because I grew up scattered here and there, never finding a real home or place where I belonged – I was the eternal outsider weirdo wherever I was, with whomever I was… even when I was in the company of other weirdos and mixed up humans.
Frankly the race issue was less of an issue for me than the fact that it took me ages to ever feel as though I belonged to the human race. I always had the sneaking suspicion that I might be an illegal alien, from another planet, and that worried me as I didn’t know why the alien race to which I belonged had abandoned me here on this planet.
Was I on a special super secret mission which was also a secret to me? Was that the point… I mustn’t know about it for it to work? Or was I so strange that I was too odd for my alien nation of origin and they’d dumped me on Earth as though I was toxic waste they didn’t want polluting their planet?
What was wrong with me? – that question has always haunted me through the many phases of my life, the growing pains, the identity crises, and so on…
I still don’t have an answer… but I still ask the question as though it is a fresh one. I’ve never quite been able to fit into society… it’s an invisible scar unlike the visible scars I have on my skin which hold stories, memories, within their beautiful ugly, and tell tales of adventures both ordinary and extraordinary.
My partner only recently noticed the thickened gash under my chin. I had told him about the cause of this a few times when we were discussing our physical scars… as humans do, but he wasn’t really listening because… humans… we don’t always listen. I’m not a saint of listening either, I know he’s told me several times why he has a scar across his eyebrow… can I recall that story?
I have quite a few scars, one very ancient one in the shape of a mystical triangle which I sort of nurtured into a scar as a child who kept bashing it and causing it to bleed… it was caused by a large gold doubloon from a Spanish Galleon washed up on a South American beach along which I was running wild (don’t question this… my child self likes that version of the story, it’s more poetic and stuff).
Sometimes our scars are more of a tattoo than a tattoo, because life and living it gave them to us whether we wanted them or not.
This skin I’m in… is tattooed with more than just scars from falling off banisters while pretending that I was a circus tightrope walker who… just happened to suffer from a bit of the repetitive clumsies breaking their fall each time with the prominent jut of a chin which refuses to admit defeat. Or a freebasing junkie of speed… hurtling down a steep incline on a bicycle – wheel hits rock, flying over handle bars occurs, chin hits tarmac. And so it goes.
Yet all of that is nothing compared to another natural tattoo… freckles.
I was supposed to stay out of the Sun. But like many of the things I was supposed to do… I found those boring because they were limiting, especially of movement, of a thirst for adventure, for living my life come what may, hellbent on being reckless. So my ‘white skin’ (which is now a very multi-speckled ochre) is a map of earthly stars brought out by exposure to a burning Sun.
Once upon a Caribbean beach, a rather handsome fellow who had an eye for jailbait said to me – A girl without freckles is like a night sky without stars. I laughed a rather cynically for my age, and told him he had just won some points and needed to spend them elsewhere as this night sky was one which would fall upon him and crush him with its weight… no, I didn’t say that… but I did laugh cynically, did compliment him on his effort while calling him out on his pick-up line, then I introduced him to my father (who was a shell’s throw away, and also prone to saying charmingly silly things to a damsel they were in need of impressing with man-to-woo-woman speak) who briefly adopted him and took him on some rather grown up macho adventures (a fine bromance with no kisses… at least not between them… maybe, who knows).
Such is the freckled, speckled, skin of life and living… let the sun shine and let the adventure continue until it… stops, if it does indeed stop.