Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care, and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom."  ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

My face is a battlefield.  Yes, it is… YES, it IS! And a lot of the blame sits right on your shoulders, Arthur Conan Doyle! Yes, YOURS! If it hadn't been for you and your creative mind and your unique way of telling a story, I wouldn't be having this war on my face! Why did you have to write so many stories that the publisher had to produce two volumes to fit them all in?

And don't you smirk at me, Laguna Beach, you silent siren of the sea. I blame you, too! You, with that long, slim, sandy-white beach, and Bird Rock, and the best little restaurant in Orange County …and those cliffs that I can climb around when it's low tide to take some perfect pictures with my old Canon Rebel. It's your fault, too!

I never liked sitting in the sun. It was just too darn hot! In fact, if the temperature is over 75 degrees, I'm too darn hot. (I do LOVE Ella's perfect singing of that song… who wouldn't?) But, until I was 13 1/2 years old, we lived in So California, and going to the beach was what we always did. My Mom and Dad loved Santa Monica Beach and had lived close to it from the time they both met, and then got married, and then had two children. I still have pictures of Mom and Dad and Jack and I sitting there on a beach blanket, wet hair and all, squinting into the sun. No one ever said that the sun was bad for you then. In fact, doctors told us that we got vitamin D from the sun, and since I didn't like milk,  spending hours and hours sitting in the sun, getting tanned and sometimes sunburned, was the most healthful thing I could do, it was thought…

I spent hours in the sun because a light tan seemed to cover some of my horrible acne scars, I thought. Acne, a thing I was plagued with since I was 13 years old. I was always a shy, quiet kind of kid, but the more those lumps multiplied on my face, the shyer and quieter I grew. When I was young, acne was just a part of being a teenager, I was told. But Bunny, a beautiful girl in our 6th grade class, didn't have a mark on her face, except the pretty pink lipstick she wore. And Bobbie, one of my three best friends, had the cutest freckles on her cheeks. She hated them, but at night I used to wish that my acne would turn into freckles in the morning light… never happened, though.

And, of course, my other best friend, Linda, an only child who always got anything and everything she ever wanted, never had acne. A pimple wouldn't dare to pop up on her spoiled face! On the weekends when I got to ride with Linda on the back of her horse behind the saddle, it didn't matter. It was just so much fun to ride wherever Linda decided to go on her obliging horse, Cholla. And when I'd get home, and jump into the bathtub to scrub off the dust, and then look into the mirror, a new pimple or two had popped up to go for that ride, too…  sheesh!

One day, Mom finally took me to a dermatologist. He told us, "It's just one of those teenage things that happen.  It'll go away," and he gave Mom a hefty bill for that "thorough examination."

Later, when I was married, Richard and I bought a little house with a small swimming pool in the tiny backyard. It was heaven all those summers in between each of my 10 months of teaching high school. Most days, I'd lounge on the plastic raft, floating for a couple hours in that pool... just me and a really good book… like both of your collections of Sherlock Holmes tales, Arthur C. D.

Time passed… lots of time passed… and then lots and lots more time passed…

I looked in the mirror about 6 months ago, and I thought to myself, Terry, you look pretty good for an old woman. In fact, your skin looks so soft and kind of smooth.  And I didn't even think, if only it'd been like that when you were young. I was just happy.

Well, all except for that little dry skin above my upper lip… So I went to the dematolagist. She gave me a prescription for a little tube of white cream, and she said to apply it to the dot above my lips, and it wouldn't hurt to apply it to the reddish places on my nose and my cheeks, too. It would eat up the "pre-cancer cells" and leave the healthy flesh alone. "Pre-CANCER!" That's the second scariest thing that doctor could have told me.

And then a full-out war burst into flames! My face blazed red, bright red. Parts of it even turned a sort of bluish-red. The fight was on! All over the sun-scorched parts of my face lay a thin smear of white cream… cell-munching cream that is very picky.

It's been 3 or 4 weeks now, and today I think the "cease fire" is getting close. The red has turned to pink , and now it's beginning to itch. I'll see the doctor soon, and she'll tell me what's what.

But now, when I read, it's always in the comfort of my favorite chair inside of our house… Lesson learned!