More of my writing on my author friend Luis Alberto Urrea’s prompt “What Your Hands Remember.”
Mom’s Faberge Tigress Perfume
Hands remember what others may forget. Only as I let my hands lead my memory back did I recall the fuzzy velvet tiger print on the lid of Mom’s Faberge Tigress perfume. How many times did I slip into my mom’s room and feel it? “It was black on top and striped on the sides!” my eyes want to say, but my hands reply, “Hush. This is our story, and we remember that it was delightfully fuzzy.” Comforting. Like the satin edge of a child’s blanket.
The First Touch of a Piano’s Keys at Age Six
Everyone’s life has at least one defining moment. For me, it was the instant my fingers first touched the keyboard of a piano. I was only six, two years younger than my teacher normally accepted as a beginner, but he said later that he never regretted it. From that moment, “piano player” is how many have known me; it’s simply who I am. My hands remember, but it’s my soul that plays the music. And my hands feel the music flowing through them just as surely as they feel the smooth ivory. Cool to the touch. Black and white. Raised and flat. Infinite variety all within reach of my hands. Comforting. Way better than satin or fuzzy perfume lids. My hands touched the keys that day, and I was never the same.
Skinning Across Asphalt, Falling in 2nd Grade
Some memories are painful, and they also stay with you for life like a scar that won’t heal. I was in second grade, six years old, and running in from recess. Some kid in front of me was running oddly, with his feet kicking out to the sides. So I tripped over his foot and fell headlong onto the pavement. My chin took most of the impact, splitting open and requiring 12 stitches. But my hands remember that day, too, skidding across the gravelly asphalt, adding insult to injury. Adding injury to injury, in fact. Stinging. Throbbing. While my chin was gushing blood, my hands were bleeding, too, from a million little wounds, each with an embedded grain of sand. 48 years ago. My hands still remember. Each grain of sand.