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127 TWENTY-SIX JUNCTURES OF HOW I AM A PART OF YOU ACCEPT Cupped in my hands, sipping on some wakeup warmth, I hold the maroon mug my mother gave me on a day when I didn’t want to be me. The feeling I felt a few years ago, every day. Any day. Just yesterday. This moment was nothing new. Scene: at the hot springs, changing into a bikini, I can’t bear to look down at my bare body. How each glance along the length of my flesh incites another no. No because I can’t stand this, this sight of my too-big body. How my mother says I’m being silly, says I’m beautiful, and grabs my hand, pulls me out of the dressing room, leads me to the water. Like I’m a child. Like I’m not a twenty-six-year-old woman who can do this on her own. Can face this world. Face herself. I can’t. My mother lets go of my hand, enters the water and now here I am, standing at the edge of a hot spring with a shifting sense of no, of yes, of no, of yes, of no really, I can do this. How I then do this—this act of revealing a bashful body. I strip off my towel and quickly slip into the hot water where I can hide my flesh. Water’s ensconcing qualities. I unwind. And now it’s ninety minutes later, and we’ve extracted ourselves from the hot springs, and have toweled off, and I’m back to 128 | Chelsey Clammer looking away from my body as we get dressed, and now we’re in the gift shop just to see what trinkets and tchotchkes they sell as souvenirs. Mom buys something. I don’t see what. We exit the gift shop and a few strides later we’re in the parking lot, in the car and now I see what that something is. “Here,” Mom says. And here Mom is, placing a present in my hands. A maroon mug with a curvy woman on it, dancing. An empowering image. An encouraging visage. Mom wants me to know my beauty, to know my body, to dance and move with the freedom born from body acceptance. And because of this mug, because of this curvy woman, I smile. Now, weeks later, months later, years later, it is this morning, it is any day and every day and daily that both hands hold onto a mug that holds meaning. A sense of empowerment coaxed into existence by a mother’s gift. As in, I accepted the present back then, and have since worked on the act of body acceptance. Have started to dance often, stoking that feel of freedom. Here she is. Here is the woman I have become. Here I am. Alive. Because there are women who not only brought me here, but showed me reasons to stay. Women who made the earth more inviting than the sky. BIRTH Dr. White stands around, yawning, wondering when he will finally get to go home. It’s been a slow, snowy day. The world outside accumulating a blizzard-full of white. This woman has been in labor for just a few hours, but his patience is waning. It’s his last job of the day—a mother waiting and her birth-resistant baby wading within her. Come on already, How I Am a Part of You | 129 she silently urges. You’re taking too long. What are you doing in there? Do I have to count to three? And then Mom pushes and I crown and then the doctor's bored hands birth me. 4:17 a.m., Easter Sunday. Thank god. Finally. CHI The flat iron called Chi, found in a florescent-lit chain drugstore , aisle three. Purchased by three different women, all related. Taken home to three different houses. Plugged in and sitting on three different bathroom counters. Three Chi’s heating up, preparing to be put to use. Three generations of fierce women who refuse to be tamed, who, by the three different colors of their vaguely wavy manes, do not look related, but when at home and they take the flat iron and use it to coax their undulating strands into soft streaks and when the heat from the Chi accidentally meets skin and sizzle it bleeds, bubbles, blisters and forms a scab containing bits of a specific...


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