Tonight I went to my first ballet class in nearly two months. Not surprisingly, I was stiff and out of shape. More surprisingly, I just couldn't concentrate. I waited a long time to go back because I didn't want to be too sad to get anything out of it, but it turns out I am still too sad to get anything out of it. I kept thinking about the thing that's been upsetting me, and that would make me forget the combinations, which is both deadly and the reverse of what's supposed to happen. Ideally, class should force you to focus on class -- if you want to do it well, you need to concentrate on what you're doing -- and that pushes everything else from your mind. For me, everything else was pushing class from my mind.
In order to try to clear my passageways, I decided to come home and do a little writing. And because I wanted to write about something that would move me away from everything I've been thinking about, I decided to write about a really random topic that just popped into my head: skin.
I was watching the Oscars last night, and I admired Anne
Hathaway's skin when she was on the red carpet (that was a beautiful dress, too, by the way). Then this afternoon my Divine Comedy DVD arrived and, watching it, I noticed that Neil Hannon has very thin skin under his eyes: as thin as the skin one usually sees on old men. Given this background, I guess skin isn't that random. And, oddly enough, I do spend a fair amount of time thinking about it.
At some point, something seems to happen to skin. I'm not sure when, but some time in the late twenties the pores on some facial skins get bigger. This certainly happened on my skin. But apparently it doesn't happen to everyone. When I was watching the DVD today I was struck by how very much Neil Hannon's skin seemed to have had just the opposite happen: it's as if his skin turned to paper. I've heard people described as having "parchment skin" before, but I didn't really know what that meant until I saw him on the DVD. Not that his skin looks ugly, or old. It simply looked smooth -- and under the eyes it looked fragile, tender. Curious. His pores, it would seem, did not get bigger, since this smooth look would seem only to be possible with small pores. And men have thicker skin than women (this is a physical fact, not just a figure of speech), but Neil Hannon's skin looked very thin indeed.
Then, too, the aging of skin is a mystery. Smoking ruins it for sure, and so does going in the sun, but aside from those things it just seems to be the luck of the draw. My family has all had great skin -- we've all managed to look about ten years younger than we really are (well, I'd say I look about eight years younger than I am). And nothing seems to have caused problems with that. My father was a heavy smoker until he was 30; my mother certainly spent a great deal of time in the sun as a child; I never go in the sun, don't smoke, and push fluids, but I wouldn't say I look any younger than they looked at my age. Curious.
Then I think about the kind of skin I like. I've always preferred pale skin, and in part I've stayed out of the sun just because I think I look better pale. Last summer my friend Leslie said to me, "Whenever I read about women in novels who have milky-white skin, I think of you." I would say that ranks in the top five of things people have said to me (right up there with the time I went out to a concert with my friend Stephen, all dressed up, and as we were walking home at the end of the evening he said, "Every other woman there had something wrong with her: her shoes were wrong, or her lipstick didn't quite work. But you, you looked perfect." Beat THAT! And he didn't even want to sleep with me). But I've always preferred it for other people, too. As my list of Things I Like, below, makes plain, pale men are for me. Maybe I'm instinctively attracted to good health, and pale skin is a sign of that? Funnily enough, my former husband tended toward the olive, and I left him. And my last boyfriend was also darker-skinned -- and what's more, preferred me with a tan (although it came from a bottle) -- and I broke up with him, too. So perhaps I do have some kind of tendency to become less attached to the less pale.
And on that nonsensical note, I exit.