Saturday, December 18, 2010

part one

a memory, 1999

my mother is sitting next to me in the car, driving. i'm a youngun just starting to be aware of BODY HAIR. my best friend shaves her legs and i am ashamed that i don't yet because i'm convinced that the girls who sit behind me and whisper are whispering about me (even though my leg hair was and has always been basically invisible). i'm afraid to even ask about shaving because that would be admitting that i even have leg hair in the first place. my mother - the image of a southern femme with her tan legs, big permed hair, dark red lipstick - is unaware of her part in the internal battle within me.

my mother doesn't shave her legs above her knees, so against her tan lies a downy coat of blonde hair that disappears under the hem of her shorts. the hairs are curly but calm, neither short nor long, dense like a suburban lawn.

i'm 11, and i think it's gross. i tell her i think it is weird. those are my words. "that's weird, ma," i tell her. "why don't you shave your whole leg?" and she looks at me, eyebrows raised over her sunglasses. "i like how it looks," she says. my memory is conflicted, because i remember in that moment that her reaction meant she didn't give a shit. also in my memory is that she didn't have that downy coat the following summer.

now, i think about it and am irritated by the insecure asshole child i was. then, i only saw what i imagined my friends would see and judge: d rene's bizarre mom with the hairy legs and no-bra. now, i think about her hairy legs and our complicated relationship and i wish that, just once, i had rested my head in her lap to feel it on my face. ma, if only i could grow leg hair thick like yours. so lush, and soft, and oh how it shone golden in the texas summer.

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