I might have a “black thumb” when it comes to the raised flowerbeds that surround my sunny yard, but if you take a close look at my skin, you can revel in a veritable garden of delights.
The best things my body ever grew were my boys, but these days I have moved on from the gestation of humans to the growth of cutaneous curiosities. I have the typical skin tags and small calcium deposits that every self-respecting woman sports. I also have a wide selection of moles, and the blood-filled, three-dimensional red dots that are not as common, but still in the repertoire of reality. A step less appetizing, however, are my flat-lying, flapping brown bits. The doctor calls them seborrheic keratoses. I call them horrific.
There is an adage in planting that goes: “The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps.” Wow, have I leapt since the years of my youth—in fact, I’ve leapt so far that I now have a punch card to the dermatologist.
As the doctor peers at my naked self, she names things in Latin. What I call a “dot,” she refers to as a multisyllabic symptom of hormonal imbalance. On it goes: I give her a tour of my skin garden, pointing out the perennials and annuals, from hairline to armpit to underboob. She touches and names them all, then dismisses them with a shrug. “Nothing to worry about,” she says, pulling off her gardening gloves. She seems a little disappointed that I don’t have anything particularly spectacular, but she is still impressed by the mere multitude of my marks.
Generally, growth is considered a good thing—meditation, yoga, therapy, and journaling all catalyze personal growth. But personal growths? Those are a bit different.
I have ignored almost all of my epidermal friends in the past, just as my doctor has advised me to. I think of them as constellations, unfathomable and ever-growing. Once I grew a blueberry, which grew into a grape, which then grew its own blueberry. I called it “my thing” and thought of it as the sister I never had. When I felt really alone, I would talk to her. Then, one day by the pool, a ten-year-old friend of my son tried to pick her off my back, thinking she was a mislaid piece of fruit from our snack. I’m not sure which of the three of us was most mortified, but that was the end of my skin sister.
Today, I have called in reinforcements to help me with autumn clean-up. I am lying prone in the doctor’s office, waiting to be cut and cauterized; the dermatologist is suiting up with gloves and glasses and shears. In the brightly-lit office, she leans between my legs, the way only a select few have in the past. She oohs and sighs. Things are very interesting down there. Much more interesting than I prefer.
A few moments and my acrochorda have been culled, my sebaceous hyperplasia have been separated, and my keloids have been composted, Fall weeding is over.
Except, of course, that it is never over. Once you start growing things you never stop. So I will keep most of my growths—my stars, my skin tags, and my sisters—and celebrate this glorious bounty. Not everyone can have a blueberry for a best friend, after all.
This original piece by Anna Rosenblum Palmer was written exclusively for In the Powder Room, a division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Images © dnberty via istockphotos.com.