I was waiting at a hair salon for the receptionist to get me some miracle product to help with my sea water ravaged hair when a man, who seemed to be affiliated with the salon, approached me to say: “I can help you with your skin”. Assuming some terrible red blotchy reaction to my diving mask, I looked in the mirror, only to see, well – nothing. I looked at him, confused. “What about my skin needs help?” “The lines, I can help you with your lines.”
Well, my friend, my lines don’t need help. Let me give you a run through.
This line was made with the smiles of falling in love. The smiles of seeing, hearing, reading, of feeling that love. This one when my heart was broken. For the first, the second and the third time. This, from the frowns caused by anger and disappointment, by fights and rows, by regret and fear, by the terror of divorce.
This sacred collection just here is from squinting into the sun in Africa, Asia, Europe and America – in the snow, the heat, the glare of sun on a wet road, the mirage in a desert, the white burn of light through an aeroplane window, the blaze of a sunlit ripple on the surface of the sea, endless school runs in the car having forgotten my sunglasses. From taking a million photographs.
My cherished crows feet from the birth of my children. The utter joy and complete desperation of feeling entirely out of my depth. The never forgotten sorrow of losing two, the first with its father thousands of miles away in Australia, both of us alone with our wretchedness. From feeling completely lost in the fog of depression, of frowning at myself, missing the person I once was. The endless, always changing worries about my daughters, from the colour of the content of their nappy to their exam results, lines, lines, lines.
That one there from when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. From pacing the hospital floors for 5 hours, out of my mind, when her operation took 3 hours longer than expected. From washing her hair and her crying with gratitude. From watching her be so open with her grandchildren about her scars, making it a fact of life, like that line.
And so many from laughing and smiling, giggling and hiccuping, crying with laughter, yes even properly wetting myself with friends and family, at parties and in cafes, at dinner tables and on sofas, drunk and sober, smiling in awe at the wonders of nature, blowing raspberries on my babies’ fat tummies, being grateful for the sunshine and just smiling, just because that day was a good day.
So, no thank you. I don’t want help with my lines. I want more lines, plenty of them to run long and deep, furrow into my skin, because they mean that I have lived.