There’s a well-worn path on my face.
There are many. They remind me of the course my grandma’s black Labrador retriever wore down in the grass after dozens of high-speed chases along the fence, barking his ferocious warning to cars as they whizzed past on a lazy rural Colorado highway.
Continual repetitions grooved mi abuela’s yard. That’s happened on my face, too.
They’re set where there’s heaviest traffic – on my forehead, beside my eyes, bracketing my mouth. In 44 years, a baby face becomes an elementary school face. Chubby cheeks give way, and a traffic jam of baby and permanent teeth stack up, awaiting braces.
That kid face gives over to teen face, with an entirely fresh set of issues.
I watch fathers at baseball games tote kids no bigger than a sack of fertilizer. A cacophony of kid noises cascades from baby faces, their parents themselves babyish by comparison to me. I see moms walking children to kindergarten, laugh lines still far off in their future.
Smile lines (or frown lines) say a lot about us, says Kim of Protean Mom. As she often does, Kim got me thinking.
So, my face.
As a kid, I heard an interview with actor Burt Reynolds. He attacked his own forehead lines. “You could plant rows of corn in mine!” he said, and even at that young age, I figured his face to be one lots of guys wouldn’t mind the problem of having. I have those horizontal lines, but faded.
I trace my fingers up and down the vertical lines, which begin just between my eyebrows, on my face.
They run parallel, forged first no doubt from concentration during math classes that devoured me. They became deeper as deadlines approached, as thoughts percolated, as theories took shape.
They appear when pain teeters on unbearable, when fleeting peace escapes once again.
They also appear as I contemplate the words and responses and thoughts that become the words and responses tomorrow. There’s joy in that. The lines run deep, unfixable. They remind me of pain and thought and the necessity of each in life.
Crow’s feet, they call them.
They sneak up on you. Years without sunglasses from anywhere but Dollar Tree takes a toll. I saw my crow’s feet starkly in a photo I wonder might have long been deleted. The eye wrinkles leaped off the screen when I saw it, eliciting a thought that I look more like my father than I imagined.
Snapped in a moment of bliss as we fed ducks, the joy was instant, I remember.
They’re signs of a life, though rocky and lost at times, lived in joy. That despite periods of sorrow and days of loss, each day can deliver a chance to find a breath of joy, an impulsive smile that doesn’t give a damn about wrinkles.
They’re not obvious. Not just because I sport tonight a four-day stubble. They emerge sheepishly, butting against a dimple on one side, adrift on flesh that I hope stands resilient to the markers elsewhere on my face, not from lack of reasons to laugh or smile.
Just the slightest of things, that *one* thing I ask The Maker for when the road turns treacherous.
Just give me one thing. Just one. I’ll turn it into a revolution.
I rub the forlorn face I photographed for this blog. Today it saw a crystal-clear blue Carolina sky, exceptional company at breakfast, and a whim drive from Greensboro, N.C., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to see Grace win her first club championship.
Against the grain of stubble, I silently vow to unearth those spots in the day that challenge the very resilience of my face. I promise to immerse myself in those moments that bunch my eyes and relax my brow and incite smiles to widen and foster healing from inside.
Really. It’s not just a line.