Monday, July 31, 2017

Anatomical


"All the colors 
Of the rainbow
Hidden 'neath my skin
Hearts have colors
Don't we know?
Red runs through our veins"
 - Kaleidoscope Heart, by Sarah Bareilles




The day was overcast. A chilly wind came in gusts, whipping my skirt around with a tantalizing sort of urgent frenzy. I wore large, Audrey Hepburn-style sunglasses; without prescription lenses my eyesight is so abysmal that if I squint at all I am quick to slide sunglasses over my eyes, a protective reflex. Yet if I'm honest I admit it's also partly to guard my privacy, my expression a little more hidden when strangers shove flyers my way or call out with their wares. 

I wore a sundress, because in summer I do my best to dress like it even if the season wishes to disagree. Yet I wore it with a sweater knotted at my waist and a light grey scarf thrown about my neck. The sun on the equator is deceptively strong, even on cool days, thus I've taken to wearing light scarves to protect my collarbone area in leu of sunscreen. Beneath the scarf, my silver anatomical heart necklace lay heavy against my bare skin. I love its unexpected weight, a feature which surprised and delighted me when I first held it. I had picked it out online, craving it for ages before my sister gifted it to me two Christmases ago. I am drawn to delicate things, yet the weight of the charm seems to say "I'm stronger than I look", a feeling I hold with quiet assurance. 



I visited a shopping center and bought office supplies and stocked up on gift bags and wrapping paper for when birthdays happen at the ministry I work with. Here, wrapping paper is most often sold by the individual sheet, so I picked out the patterns I wanted from a display rack, counting up 4, 5, or 6 sheets per design. The large sheets, along with gift bags, tape, envelopes and paper clips, were put in an awkwardly huge plastic bag. It bumped against my legs as I headed downstairs to the grocery store. Just inside the entrance, I lifted my huge bag to show the man behind the counter, letting him decide if he'd hold onto it for me or merely tape the opening shut. The man saw me and a smile broke wide across his face.


"Good afternoon! Welcome!" he boomed. He took my bag and handed me a plastic card with the number 5, nodding and murmuring things like, "With pleasure" the whole time. I thanked him as he continued to beam at me and repeat, "Welcome, welcome!" His enthusiasm was so strong, when I turned away I actually looked down at myself to make sure I was fully and properly dressed. My hair was pulled back messily and I had on hardly any makeup, so either he thought I was pretty anyway or was simply a robustly outgoing person.


I filled my cart with cereal and coffee, milk and cheese, bell peppers and onions, bananas and strawberries. I heard once that eating berries every day is essential to good health, though they're somewhat expensive here. I get them as a treat when I can, still missing my favorite fruit of all: blueberries.


I finished my grocery shopping, exchanged the plastic card for my bag of paper goods, and went in search of a cab. I ran towards the street, hailing a cab whose break lights flashed a steady red as the driver gave me a confirming nod. The silver pendant beat against my chest: a second heart, going thump, thump, thump.


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