wonder • wander
a collection of thoughts, musings, and milestones
When I was eight or nine, my Grandmother Bailey regularly instructed me to slather my face with Pond’s Cold Cream every night. This would stave off wrinkles. Well, of course, I didn’t follow her advice! Cold Cream was greasy and it had a scent (I can still conjure that Pond’s olfactory unpleasantness). It was a bit too "old-grandma" for my taste.
Anyway, I wasn’t worried about wrinkles. I was worried about freckles!
Freckles were an unfortunate imperfection; an imperfection that was unavoidably visible on my face, arms, and skinny little legs. Sure, wrinkles may have been a horrible reality to old people—but I didn’t have wrinkles and I was lifetimes away from being old. Why be concerned about some future, future thing I couldn’t imagine?!
Classmates called me “freckle-face”.
In third grade, Brian, who could barely read and who sat at the desk behind mine, posited that I had probably been left out in the rain when I was a baby and my hair got rusty and dripped on my face. Middle school boys suggested that I should stay out in the sun a lot more so all the spaces between my freckles would fill in and it would look like I had a tan. I knew that wouldn’t work. It felt like thoughtless taunting.
My own mother suggested putting urine on my face to bleach the freckles—like “they” did in Ireland, according to her. I knew my freckles (ha, “like the back of my hand) and I could instantly see a reddish-brown speck anywhere in the freckled landscape of my body and recognize it as a foreign mark. A smudge. Some dried butterscotch spots. A careless peanut butter smear from lunch. Playground dirt.
I could not wear dresses with polka dots.
Had those myriad rusty freckles of mine been numbered--by an angel or perhaps by a supremely gifted Artist—I imagined being able to draw a line from number to number to number thus revealing a beautiful map or code or figure that illustrated the meaning of life or solved the secrets of the universe.
As we know, years come and fade into the past; into memories. I stopped being concerned about freckles long ago. Freckles do fade with age and indoor living. The bothersome issue passed.
Eventually and inevitably (I can’t say I wasn’t warned), the “future, future” showed up. It’s here. It’s been here for a few decades now. And, since I’m still on the planet, it is clear that I’ve entered an unenviable stage in many a mature woman’s life. Let me now speak the dreaded “W” word: Wrinkles.
I have reached and gotten accustomed to the Wrinkled Years. What the “present, present” is revealing to me about my “past, past” is that I never spent my long, long life hiding from the sun or strangers, or chance, or dangers. So, no wonder they all found me. Wrinkles invaded my face.
Note to Life (as it goes on and on): Freckles fade: Wrinkles remain.
Alas, it's too late for Pond's Cold Cream.
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Wonder & Wander
A collection of thoughts, musings, and milestones from author, wonderer, and wanderer, Linda Durham.
Copyright © Linda Durham | Site Design by Angulo Marketing & Design
Linda Durham is a human rights advocate, adventurer, author of Still Moving, The Trans-Siberian Railway Journey, An Art and Friendship Project, and a Sixties Manhattan Playboy Bunny. She is the founder and director of Santa Fe's Wonder Institute, which sponsors art exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and salons focused on discovering and implementing creative solutions to contemporary social and cultural issues. For more than three decades, Durham promoted New Mexico-based artists as the hands-on owner of contemporary art galleries in Santa Fe and New York.