Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writers toolkit: Hands

I love hands. A person's hands are among the first things I notice about them.

I have a colleague who has beautiful "piano player" hands, with long, straight and graceful fingers and immaculately manicured nails. She's very young and the skin on her hands is smooth and unmarred.

Another colleague has large, mannish hands with thick fingers and knobby knuckles. She wears very delicate, super-feminine rings which seem to clash with the rest of her hands.

A third colleague has nondescript hands, but she wears such beautiful rings I barely notice her hands.

Lately I've been contemplating my own hands more than ever before. They used to be fat and soft and pudgy. I'm getting older and I've been losing weight, so my hands are changing. My fingers are still the short and stubby nubs they always were, but they are going a bit bony, with blue veins popping out and more age spots every day.

When I was young, I had long nails which I kept polished and of which I was inordinately proud. Now, my nails are short, filed in a straight line and unpainted. I can't be bothered with polish or manicures and, typing as much as I do, long nails are out of the question.

A month ago I took off my wedding ring for the first time in more than two decades. The indentation in my ring finger is still visible. Several times a day I notice that my left hand is naked and I am startled to discover my ring is gone. Then I remember that I took it off and put it away with the bracelet my husband gave me for our twenty-fifth anniversary. Every day I look at my ring finger in the hope that the indentation that resembles a scar will have disappeared. It shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. I suppose more than a quarter of a century of marriage should leave marks.

A woman's hands tell a lot about her life. Mine speak of growing age and a long marriage, the end of which has left a visible sign on my body to go with the invisible scars on my soul. I don't expect either to go away any time soon.


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