This is my right hand.
It has some curious features on it.
- A faded scar, shaped like a crescent moon
- An awful bump in the middle joint of my middle finger
- A healing scab
- A couple of moles
- An index fingernail that looks like all of the index fingernails on my mother’s side of the family
- Overgrown cuticles
- A tan line that only I can see on the ring finger
- A ring finger that bends back over towards the middle finger
All of these are a part of me. They are a part of my history: The moles are from being out in the sun. The scab is from a recent mosquito bite. The overgrown cuticles are because I rarely care for my nails. The ring finger bends back towards my middle finger because I used to write a lot by hand; and the bump on my middle finger is because I broke it inline skating to class one day in college.
The nail on my index finger reminds me of those in my genetic makeup. I am sharply reminded of this every time I look at the hands of my aunts and uncles and some of my cousins, and I always feel a little taken by the similarity.
Of all of these, the crescent-moon-shaped scar interests me the most.
I love my right hand. It’s written a lot of letters, a lot of thank-you notes, a lot of grocery lists and packing lists. It has written a lot of diary entries, starting with the little book with the kitten on it that “locked” with a standard key. My dad gave it to me when I was eight. I still remembering his encouraging me to write in it each night. I wrote some things and then the next morning I would find notes from my dad or my mom in the margins. (When did we lose the connection?)
I have kept nearly all of my journals. The one that is missing is red; it has a photo of a director’s chair on it, and it was stolen along with my backpack one night in the heady days of the late 90s, when I was out almost every night and felt bereft when I was home alone.
At the moment, my entire history seems bound in this hand and what it’s done: tomorrow I start study for my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and I’m keenly aware that I might discover some things about my writing that I didn’t know before, and some things that I might not want to know.
It’s my deepest hope that I will end the two years in the program having learned something about myself, and perhaps armed with the tools that will allow me to share what I’ve learned about people in general with everyone else. I’d like to share this knowledge in the form of a published book, but a girl must not hope too much.
I have written three manuscripts. This is perhaps my greatest shame, for none of these is published, and I don’t know if any of them will be. Think of it: three whole manuscripts! Nearly 900 pages! Just sitting there, gathering theoretical dust, whilst I dally about with everything but making an attempt to sell them.
What can be worse than knowing that your writing is somehow broken? Not much, but I know I will find out much more, in much more detail. The fact that my writing is broken seems tied to the fact that I must be broken, somehow, too; much as the fact that my right hand is tied to my writing.
These are the skeletons in my closet.
This is my right hand, the one that did all the writing, and the one with so much history to it. I want more for it; tomorrow I start that task.
Here’s a list of the things that comprise everyday life in Haiti:
1. Phone calls from one Thermador Viragot: “Hello, Thermador. How are you? No, I still don’t have mattresses. We do tents. TENTS, Thermador. What? Okay, fine. Talk to you tomorrow, but I still won’t have mattresses.”
2. Misting fans at The Deck on the MINUSTAH base.
3. Helicopters as the daily backdrop to breakfast and lunch if we’re eating at The Deck.
4. Wild goose chases: One day we were sent to Customs HQ, DHL, our warehouse, and Petionville, only to be told at all four places that we didn’t need to be there anymore. This is normal.
5. Seeing lovely ShelterBox tents wherever we go and feeling proud that they are still standing after 7 months when everything else has gone to poo.
6. Communiques with press.
7. Trying to manage social media for a business in Philadelphia first thing in the morning, when my head and heart are 900 miles away.
8. Electricity outages.
9. Beer and rum each night.
10. Debrief and review of day (see #9, above)
It’s time for me to go home. I’m tired and cranky and I need to be around people I love, who can smooth down the ragged edges that have become a part of my makeup here.