My mouth makes pretty singy-song noises. It is scarred and asymmetrical from that faceplant off a bunk bed in college, but when the pressure rises, this mouth can fire off some zingers like you wouldn’t believe.
My mouth is frequently humming or singing. It has a (charming?) Drew-Barrymore lisp, especially when I am sleepy. My mouth says things that surprise me, instead of holding on to things I regret keeping to myself. My mouth quirks and twists in hundreds of ways, and it looks nice in pictures.
My mouth has ten levels of smiles, from fake grimace to where-did-her-eyes-go hilarity. If you could still see my pupils when I smiled, that means it was fake. If my mouth was uneven when I smiled at you, I think you’re funny. If my mouth was closed around you, that means you intimidate me. If my lips thinned when you were talking, it means you’re pissing me off.
If my mouth has teased you more than once, it means I frigging love you.
My heart. It never stops working. It has a lot of work to do, keeping this body going, but every time I go to the doctor it’s like, “120/80, everything’s cool.”
It’s a warrior. It’s been tested, pushed, stretched, broken, crushed, questioned, and threatened with removal (every time I sing that Florence & the Machine song). But it keeps on beating.
It’s the most stubborn part of my body, marching on when the rest of me is sick of this and wants to surrender, and today I am damn grateful.
They are not the highest-functioning part of my body, what with needing glasses since I was twelve.
They are not the first thing you notice when you meet me: many other aspects are so much… bigger.
They are deep-set in my skull, with modest eyelashes and wispy eyebrows. They are a very common shade of brown (chocolate, not golden). They do not change colors with my moods, or remind people of the sea, or anything super-cool like that.
But they are, without fail, the most expressive feature of my face. I can hold the muscles of my mouth and eyebrows completely still (and have, when my students are working my last nerve), but nothing stops the emotions radiating out from my eyes at any given moment.
I can wink with either one of them. I can cross them a couple different ways. They squint when I smile. They dance when I am teasing. They fill with tears at the slightest provocation, whether it’s a sad song or a sweet commercial or a baby or a puppy or a penguin or a really tiny shoe. My eyes say everything.
I actually like my eyes. You know… when they’re not squinted shut, and you can find them.
It’s time to talk about skin.
Everybody has it. It seals in your guts. It prevents infection. It creates tough shields over spots which are frequently abraded or cut. It weeps salty moisture to keep us cool. It grows hair in unique patterns. It stretches like crazy.
Why do we say so many hateful things about it?
It is summer, so mine is 90% covered in freckles. I look like Seurat tried to paint on my tan, and used six different brush sizes. The parts that aren’t exposed to the sun are pale like an Easter Lily, with random melanin spots for no discernable reason.
My skin is soft. My skin is everywhere it should be. My skin crops up little moles or spots (red, brown, golden, doesn’t matter), just to keep things interesting. My skin does its job beautifully (although it still overreacts to sunlight). My skin sends up goosebumps when something exciting happens. My skin floods with color every time I am laughing, or angry, or singing, or thinking someone’s cute, or wishing I could hide.
My skin is one of my most expressive features: not sure what I’m thinking? Look at the color in my cheeks and ears.
I was born with a hearing defect, although the cause has never been determined. One ear only hears the highest part of the sound register, and the other compensates.
I may never know what perfect hearing sounds like, as one of my Dumbo-sized head-appendages is largely for symmetry, and the left one does all the work. I’ve never known what I’m missing.
They stick out from my head well enough to tuck my hair behind. They support the arms of glasses. They aren’t sensitive to metals and can rock some badass earrings. They turn red when I am angry or embarrassed, which is kind of adorable.
My wonky hearing enables me to shut out extraneous noises for unparalleled focus and the ability to sort through threads of music. I can tell which top-row mezzo is rolling the vowel into the back of her throat, or which bass is a quarter step flat.
Thanks, ears. My job literally depends on you; please never quit on me.
Like a matched pair, today’s featured body part is my hands.
My hands are used to twenty-seven years of typing and piano. My fingers may be callused, but they are still generally clean & tapered and handle loads of rapid fine motor function.
There is no use in getting my nails done, ever, because of how the polish chips off the ends within a day of steady use. The one time in my life that I got long acrylic nails, I was consumed by frustration and ripped them off after three days (which hurts; I don’t advise it).
I’m also ambidextrous, which makes life easier in so many ways.
The palms are good for holding and cleaning things, and the fingers are deft with cooking utensils (as long as I don’t get too showy with the knife). The knuckles and wrists are strong, and have never broken (although there was I time I fell out of top-bunk bed and landed on my right hand, spraining one finger… yeah. I’m tough).
My hands do lovely things when I am conducting. They also know their way around a darkened room and a companion’s body. All good things.
Trying to tackle one of my LEAST favorite body parts today, to push myself:
My feet are callused, US size 10/11, veiny, indelicate. They’re also unusually wide, and have weird toenails. And when I say weird, I mean 60% of them are deformed in some way.
I generally hide them, and don’t like when they are touched (I cite being excessively ticklish). Pedicures give me anxiety. There are times I would rather put them in long socks and boots and forget they exist.
They also make good flippers for swimming, handle 12-16 hours of standing, and dissuade me from buying expensive shoes because they look preposterous in platforms or stilettos.
My college roommate was a below-the-knee amputee. My own sister broke her foot a couple months ago. I know to be grateful for the misshapen platforms that carry me from here to there, and foot aesthetics is a new concept designed to sell beauty products.
I have resolved that perhaps I can *like* my feet, but not necessarily *love* them.