I am fascinated by you.
You seem to inhabit your body so effortlessly, whilst I am solely fixated on the gaps between my toes.
How do you bend so easily, your vertebrae dancing down your spine? My back seems awkward and heavy, skin folding in places it shouldn’t.
You take things from the shelves as though your arms already know the molecules of air they must move by name. My arm extends as though blown by a gust of wind, unsure of why it is moving, and where it is moving to.
Your skin seems to know your bones, your muscles. It wraps itself around you like it’s holding you together. I look at mine and wonder how it even stays upon my body and doesn’t melt to the floor.
We stand at mirrors and visualize our firmer thighs, our tanner skin, our bigger breasts and flab-less torsos, and we sit outside of ourselves, painting.
Today, I painted out my love handles with a turpentine brush, and I painted in my eyelashes with a gunmetal grey, and I painted a belly button that wasn’t my own.
I’ve watched us paint our hair with curls and colours, and our feet with bigger arches and less strength. We paint our ears with diamonds and our clavicles with hollowness, and we paint away the freckles on our sun-drenched cheeks.
I have painted over stretch marks made by years of change and growing, and I’ve stripped off all the hair that grows where hair grows—always will grow. We paint around our bloodshot eyes and make them appear beautiful, and cover up the big ribcage our mother had at our age, and we melt into a canvas we’ve created out of all the extra skin we have extracted—and we disappear.
Don’t you know what is to come? Can’t you feel the thunderstorms approaching in your bones? There are a million tiny raindrops to feel dancing on your eyelids when you step outside and all the sand is turned to mud beneath your toes. There’s a sunshine summer sweating through your rosy cheeks, and all the world is green beneath your fingertips.
Can’t you hear the music playing? Let the goosebumps dance around your freckles and the pins and needles dissipate as you skate in your stockings across the wooden floor.
Connect to your body. You are in it. It is all you physically are. Live within yourself. Disconnect is dangerous, addictive.
Feel your legs moving. Twist your ankles around and let them click. Pull the skin that hangs below your arms. It is yours and no one else’s, and yours forever.
Examine every inch of your flesh and appreciate its existence and resilience. It got you through those nights that you were working until dawn. It carried you through heartbreak when you could’ve sworn that you were breaking; it was whole, and it held you.
You live in this body. Inhabit it wholly. Experience its quirks. Enjoy its magic and functionality.
Paint if you must, but paint with artistry and love and care, and float on waves, feeling every drop of water trying to touch you. Do not float outside yourself and paint over the years of hard work nature has invested into making your fingers grow long, your teeth grow strong and your heart go on.
You are in your body. It is the only place you can be.
Author: Ruby Gill
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Author’s Own