My heritage — veins and wrinkles

“Is that a cut on your face?” a six-year old kid asked me as we were waiting for our food at a restaurant this week. “No, sweetie,” I replied. “They’re called wrinkles.”

Now. I’m 33 going on 34, I know a lot of people would frown and roll their eyes if they saw a picture of me, but it’s the truth. I have lines beside my eyes and around my mouth, proof of my constant smiling and laughing habits. So — I don’t mind them, they mean I’ve smiled and laughed so much that they’ve left a mark.

The frown line between my eyebrows, though, where my London bridge abode in my teenage years, that I mind a little. It’s proof of the moments that made me think and frown, or fret and stress over silly things, or someone else’s business — and by that I don’t mean being a nosy ass no, I mean the companies I worked for.

I don’t quite like this one as much as my smiling lines. Then again, it means I’ve cared and I have brains to think with, so it’s okay too.

Expression lines, that’s what they are. It comes as no surprise to anyone who’s spent more than an hour in my company. Unless I’m trying to pull a surprise or cannot share someone else’s secret out of respect, my face gives away a lot of what I’m thinking.

Then there are the other lines, the green and purple ones on my lower thighs and now even starting to creep onto my calves. I’ve been covering them most of the time, over the past ten years, unless I’m at the beach that is.

After this kid asked me about the ‘cut’ on my face, it occurred to me. There’s no way these lines are getting any better, unless I resort to cosmetic surgery that is. And why should I? Why would I want to hide something from my past?

I’ve purposefully marked my skin with a tattoo, I have a 20cm scar on the side of my body and I don them with pride. Why should it be any different with other marks on my body? My expression lines mean I’ve lived. My veins are my father’s family heritage — my gran, aunts and cousins all share this trait with me, so I’m going to start considering them my family tattoo.

As of the last couple of days, I’ve stopped being embarrassed at having my family tree tattoo show from underneath my skirts. They’re part of me and I like skirts. I feel freer and more feminine in them. I’ve missed my girly stuff while I traveled for 8 months in Asia, so here goes. I like skirts and dresses and if a few purple and green lines show, that’s okay — if anyone has an issue with them, they can very kindly be invited to look the other way.

This face, these eyes, have smiled with me, they’ve cried with me, they’ve popped out in surprise. These legs are what took me to great adventures, they’ve traveled to more than 15 countries with me, they’ve carried me to funerals I dreaded, but they’ve taken me to more fun parties where I danced all night. They took me up mountains, explored new places with me, to showers with clean, running water and to metal-top roofed houses with no bathrooms. They were tired with me, they literally jumped out of joy with me.

That’s it. This is the end of the hiding and shaming. Dear wrinkles and veins, you are proof that I have lived an intense life so far, you are welcome on my body and I can’t wait to see what’s still to come.

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