Because temperatures in the city are extremely low, winds are terribly unforgiving, and my lips are dangerously getting close to being chapped – I have felt like a big round fluff of layers for the last couple of days. Sitting on the train yesterday, I started to unwrap myself, from my jacket to my scarf and my muffs, all the way to my gloves. As I pulled off my black leather best friends, I started gazing at my hands.
Now, I’ve always been told I have my mother’s hands and it is true. If you put our hands next to one another, pull her 50-year-old skin back a bit, they look identical. It makes buying her jewelry insanely easy and quite entertaining, since I get to try it all on. Nevertheless, at that moment, I started thinking about my hands and all of their many purposes.
I looked at the scars - one from a car accident that changed my life and my perspective on the human spirit (forever making me believe in angels and a philanthropic mind), another from a little too intense tickle fight with Mr. Idea, and a final one from getting too close to a withering candle. Unless I pointed them out, these scars are not noticeable, but to me, they represent the experiences that have taught me lessons and a very special man I’ve loved. These same hands have held a tennis racquet for years, danced across piano keys since I was seven years old, and held on tight to monkey bars. They’ve made their home on a keyboard or around a pen, stringing together words to release stress or inspire masses.
They’ve shaken hands with editors from all sorts of magazines, strangers I was introduced to only once and never laid eyes on again, and dozens of businessmen who I was instructed to network with. They’ve been kissed by my father my entire life and a handful of men who were into that romantic-type of thing. They’ve been rejected when extended for a dance, and they’ve denied certain pairs that reached out to them.
They’ve been decorated in every shade of nail polish, manicured to-the-nines, and also ridiculously filthy. They’ve kneaded dough, caught baby cousins as they were falling, and been lathered, rinsed, and lotioned countless times. They’ve joined with my best friend as we happily and drunkingly skipped down streets, safe in each other’s grip. And they’ve held her up as strong as they could in the most devastating moment of her life as she stood before everyone who came to pay their respect to her late mother.
They’ve intertwined with men starting on the first date, only to unlock at the final goodbye. They’ve been grabbed in the middle of night and placed on a hairy chest. They’ve traced the outline of a face that I never wanted to stop looking at. They’ve brushed the lips of a mouth that seemed too perfect and too honest to ever say anything evil or misleading. They’ve reached, they’ve pulled, they’ve grabbed. They’ve gripped the back of a lover in a moment of urgency and slipped away only moments later.
They’ve been held and tested, declared sacred, and they’ve challenged sincerity. They’ve felt that flutter of hope the first time a possible-someone wanted to hold them, and they’ve wiped away the sadness when trust became destroyed. They’ve cleaned messes and created them, been swollen in the mornings, and tired from typing at night.
I would say with my own two hands, I can do just about anything. And they’ve already been through quite some touching, quite some feeling, quite some healing. But at the end of all of that doing and going, leaving and staying, they’ve remained pretty much the same. They have new scars, veins that push up more than others, and of course, they will attract some wrinkles in the years to come -but they are still in tact.
They say that everything is in our hands - in our power - we have the ability to make anything happen in our own will. They say we are the masters of our fates, the captains of our own souls, and all that is, all that was, and all that will be is a result of our own doing. Our choices in partners, in dances, in cooking, in moving, in shaking – are all up to us.
And the beautiful thing about it is, though our hands won’t keep us from feeling that lovey-dovey optimism – they will break our demise if we start to crash. They will be dependable when we need them to fix something and soothing when there is no one there to run their fingers through our hair.
But most importantly, because they belong to us, because we make the choices, and we guide our lives in and out of handshakes, hand holding, and handymans - we get to decide when we wash them clean of whatever it is we please.