Sunday, November 1, 2009

Memory: My Hands (Are Small I Know...)

I don't think I was intentionally clowning around in this old photograph; my hands were simply making themselves comfortable by hitching a ride. I have a batch of pictures, taken when I was about four, and in shot after shot, those hands steal the show. I don't have many old photos -- I don't know what my brother did (or did not do) with the pictures that remained in the apartment after my father died. I'm glad that I do have this batch. There is an odd rhyme that I made up when I was a child: "Goodness knows, the puppy's pose/It's more to life than what it knows." Indeed. It may be that those hands (and arms) are a clue to the things I was diagnosed with and the things I never was. It may be that my posture (and few people who've met me have failed to note the posture!) is a clue as to genetics. Time will answer.

I wrote in an earlier post (Modeling the Latest in Hypertonic Arm Posture) how people have often interpreted the arms-drawn-up-to-the-chest posture as fearful. But in multiple pictures, you can find a bright, laughing four-year-old with her arms drawn up like a chipmunk -- it's indicative merely of muscle tone. Hand wringing is also a neurological thing. It's no sign of distress, but it can be a source of distress when people misinterpret it. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but my body language has often caused people to invent some other person, with an entirely different set of strengths and weaknesses.

Walking near Madrona Grocery Outlet -- the area where I was once grabbed and robbed -- I find myself singing, "My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours, they are my own." In some ways that song may not seem to fit me. Ah, but it's my heart that I give away to other people! My hands are, and always have been, my own.