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I Have My Grandmother’s Hands

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A few years ago Nora Ephron wrote a hilarious book called I Feel Bad About My Neck.  Her point was that women of a certain age look pretty good except for their necks.  Botox and Restylane can help us lie about our faces, but anything short of surgery, and “there’s not a damn thing you can do about a neck.”  While I feel sad about my neck, it is my hands that have now betrayed any attempts at disguising my age.

Mine are not the same hands I had two years or even five years ago.  The skin is thinner, revealing blue veins that look like road maps: The plump roly-poly veins are super highways for nurses to draw blood from; and as far as I can tell, the little ones do nothing more than add tothe decrepit appearance of a once nice neighborhood that has falleninto disrepair. If that is not bad enough, little lines have etched cross hatches into my skin, making my hands look like walking tic-tac-toe boards.

I don’t know why it comes as such a surprise that my hands now look like my grandmother’s.  I have never moisturized or pampered them, or worn rubber gloves when washing windows or scrubbing pots and pans.  Just the opposite.  For years I worked in the darkroom, sloshing my hands in caustic chemicals while making images appear as if by magic.  Then there were contact lenses.  I soon discovered hand lotion left smudges and fingerprints the size of Saturn, defeating the purpose of contact lenses in the first place.  So… the lotion went the way of rubber gloves.

But if I am to be honest about the state of my hands, it is probably lack of estrogen, more than anything that has contributed to their fall from grace.  While I have taken to slathering them with moisturizer, sans parabens, and holding them upright so the blood drains toward my elbows, temporarily transforming superhighways into modest country roads, they are what they are.  They are my indelible road maps—permanent records of where I have been.  I may not like how they look, but they are part of my new normal.  From what I can tell, the roads will only get bumpier.