…out of hand

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What the hand does the mind remembers
Maria Montessori

Your hands are more familiar to you than your own face.  Every crease and freckle, the corner of your thumb that cracks in winter, the sweeping lines of your palms.  You are fascinated by other people’s hands too, how deeply intimate it feels to look at another’s hands, and how rarely you get to touch or examine another’s fingers. 

There are 27 bones in the hand.  They move with 29 joints and over 123 ligaments, but fingers do not have muscles.  They are operated instead by the muscles in the forearm.

Your hands hold extraordinary sensitivity and muscle memory.  You learned to touch type thirty years ago so your fingers instinctively know how to shape every word, even though your mind struggles to remember where the keys are.  You trust your hands to chop onions and herbs, to check the heat of your bath water, to carry out the delicate action of turning the pages of a book.

You once broke your little finger falling up the stairs in a margarita-fuelled haze.  As you fell forward your little finger found the wooden edge of a step, saving your face from damage and bouncing you back to upright. Your finger was splinted for a time and now feels stiff in cold weather, but you are constantly amazed by this little finger that was able to take the weight of your entire body. 

You read that if you have to choose, the index finger is the best one to lose as it’s the one you need the least.  You will bear this in mind the next time you’re involved in a bank heist and the robbers feel sure you know the numbers to the safe, advancing towards you with pliers in hand. 

The Venna Amoris is the vein that runs up the ring finger and is known as the vein of love, as it leads directly to the heart.  You once wore gold rings on this finger, one embedded with a diamond; a marker of love but also possession.  When you no longer wished to be married, removing your rings was a statement to the world and yourself that you were free, you were your own and yours alone.  Now you wear only silver rings on your fingers and thumbs.  Your ring finger remains free.

You know that your hands can reveal many things about you.  When you’re feeling nervous you rub your nails and the skin around them.  When you’re excited or deep in conversation they move in accompaniment to your words.  The ridges in your nails show you were cold several weeks ago, and again a few weeks before that.  Your party trick is to make your double-jointed thumbs dance in time to the music.

You currently have a white line running across the middle of the nail on your ring finger, evidence of trauma to the nail bed nearly a month ago.  Your lover was walking along a wall and you jumped up to join him but misjudged the height and fell instead, grazing your legs and hitting your hand.  Your son rushed to help you back up, as did your lover, and you sat on the wall for a few moments, in pain but laughing, your breath coming fast with the shock.  Now, every time you see that white line on your fingernail, your think of the love you felt from them and for them, and how your body is prone to slapstick misadventure. 

The whole of your life is written on your hands, and yet, with so little effort they keep turning the pages.

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