(I was thinking of focusing on my hand, but I had a little mole that probably no one can see but I can see and it's been a really big issue, so I focused on that.),
A brown, small mole. A beauty mark, my mother said. A way to know your right from your left, my mother said. A mole. An ugly, dirty mole. The boy in Mrs. Nussbaum's first grade class said, . . .
(and I go on to talk about the feelings that I had.)
(I just called it "The Story of My Body" or "Here is the Picture of Me, the same way that you did, and I started it out with a quote. It was conversation that I had with my mother, so it's start out by . . .)
How did you let me go out like that, I asked my mother when I look at pictures of my early childhood days? Her reply is always the same. You were beautiful. This, I know is not true. Maybe in her eyes. Certainly not in mine. It was my hair, wiry, brillo, a white girl with nappy hair. I so wanted it to be straight, but I can still remember the smell of it sizzling under my mother's iron. It was the early Seventies and all the other girls had long, silky straight hair and oh, how I wanted that hair. I thought of shaving my head and starting over to see if it would grow in straight if it was given a second chance. Finally, I gave up and gave in and let it grow and let it curl and let it be, and now people tell me I have beautiful hair, and I smile and remember how my mother made me feel like I was beautiful, even when it wasn't true.
(For some reason, but I do know, I did start with my hands.)
These hands that write these words can do little else. They cannot build and they cannot sculpt, they cannot play. But I've come to a point at the end of my fingers when I've realized that they can do all that and sometimes more with just one instrument. I build with words, I sculpt with words and the words of others and in the minute, moments can make music and I realize that these hands can hold all that is tragic and true, cryptic and crucial, lonely and loved, and I know that it's that trying to hold a snowflake in my hands.
For much of my life, I did not know I was short. Although today I recognize that I could not reach the shelves in the grocery store and though I can buy clothes in the children's section, for many years I thought I was tall. Then I went to college, and beyond the wide spaces and old buildings and lawns, I was most startled that I had to look up at the other students in dorm. I had to tilt my head at a forty-five degree angle to meet John from Texas or Mike from Pennsylvania. I'd see the sun and have to squint. This new awareness had the effect of making me feel small.