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My Hands

An Autobiography

My hands are soft and supple, small. I see in black and white. Five hundred and forty-eight sunrises enter my world in soft, loving, light through the blue eyes of a little babe. A year and a half has past and color, I can now see. Parchment, mine and my mother’s skin, are forever stained with washable Crayola markers. Round blobs with hands, fingers, and toes, eyes, nose, and mouth, my world is tattooed with the figure drawings of the early stories that filled a little one’s mind.  I started to draw human figures before the age of two.

 

My hands are encased in a mother’s paw. I look with Mommy at the little dots descending in the sky. One of them is Daddy. Little did we know that in two years, Daddy would be going away a lot after the two big towers fell and burned. He left during my birthday party in 2001. We were with him through the phone calls. These ten minutes, five minutes, made that particular day become our own special and unexpected holiday. With each red “X” on the calendar, it never seemed like he was too far away. The nights were only longer, full of prayers that Daddy, and the other boys and daddies he led, would come home in one piece, and more so, not shipped. However, this was not always the case.

 

My hands are snapped together, clutching a purple sea star. The little tentacles on its arms wriggle and reach, sucking my eyes into their mysterious unknown. The Monterey tidal pools were my school, my playground. On my surfboard the waves were my teacher. Organic tools of stones and kelp, like an otter, I assemble my fort to block the cold outside wind. I use a piece of driftwood to create shapes from the sand.

 

My hands are now on the ground among the trash, rust, and sweat of the girls’ locker room. I look back at the short woman with the sliver whistle around her neck. I wish she would press her prune lips to it. But, she just stands there, off in the corner, by her coat-closet of an office. First week of sixth grade near Baltimore, and I am being surrounded and beaten by eight girls in my grade, who are four years my senior. When the bell rings, the teacher with the purple lips moves in my direction, the other girls scatter. Her lips now move. I end up going to the nurse, then the vice principle. The nurse office is full.  The Vice Principle does nothing but sit behind his desk. In reality, the only thing he did do was touch the boy students when no one else was looking. It seems like some things don’t happen if no one is looking. My dad is away again, for the seventh time. Things happen even when people are looking.

 

My hands grasp a sketchbook and a drawing pencil. Now I am away from the worlds I once knew. School now is clean, straight, proper. I am outside again, only this time with a pair of teachers and other students, in Florence, Italy. Taking my pencil, I draw what I see in front of me: people, moving, change. We all can feel the breeze from the others as they pass. I do not look down at my sheet, but rather focus on what lays directly in my face and to mentally prepare for the thing around the corner. Capture on the sheet.

 

My hands are calloused and smeared with dried paint. At night one grasps a pencil, the other a cup of coffee; they bang against a keyboard. In the few hours of the morning they clutch my dolphin pillow pet as the day’s conversations go through my head. Into my mind and through my hands. Moving, spinning, whirling. I am the one riding the surf on Mavericks’ highest peaks, not the one in the whirlpool being dragged to the bottom. My life isn’t contained and packaged with the twelve shipping labels or by his eight overseas deployments. Circumstances, adaptions, and actions carve the wrinkles in my palms, and also prime my canvas. Carpe Diem. A handshake with life, but never a draw, everything happens for a reason. My fingers twitch for an improved environment for myself and the others around me, even if this time, it is only for five minutes. Why not make my reason for drive a positive one? Purple skin, purple star, purple lips, Sunrise. Now is the time, as it always will be.

 

- Karaghen Hudson, January 2013

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