A face without freckles is like a sky without stars
Last week while I was looking for things to purge from the house (Aside: I think I started off too enthusiastically with this. The first few days, I got rid of armloads of stuff: now I’m fast running out of items I am willing to part with. In fact, I might have to start purging Terry’s stuff instead.) (I’m joking, Terry: Bobby the monkey really DID run off to join the circus, I swear…) I came across a carrier bag containing a bunch of old journals from when I was a tortured teenager.
I was quite relieved to find them, actually, because I hadn’t seen them in a while and had been imagining they’d fallen into The Wrong Hands and that any day now I’d get an anonymous letter made up of words clipped from a newspaper, telling me that unless I left a certain number of unmarked banknotes in the phonebox on the corner by 5pm, my childhood diaries would be published on the Internet.
Now, you’d think that wouldn’t really phase me much, given that I’ve essentially been publishing my diary on this very website for years now. You would be wrong, though. See, I always smile inwardly when people say they write blogs “just for themselves”. I actually wrote those journals “just for myself”. I wrote them without fear that anyone would ever read them; without having to worry that if I complained about the weather, someone would come along and point out that some people don’t GOT no weather, or that if I said anything even vaguely negative, people would remind me that I have a lot of shoes, and that no-one with a lot of shoes can possibly ever have even the slightest reason to ever feel down about ANYTHING. Just sayin’.
(I really wish it was true, this idea that shoes somehow act as a protective barrier between their owner and any kind of unhappiness. Because trust me: they don’t.)
The result of that kind of uncensored honesty? Well, let’s just say there’s a HUGE difference between writing “for yourself” and writing “for the entire internet”. My journal from when I was 14, for instance, is almost entirely dedicated to the fascinating subject of my freckles, and how they, and they alone, are the reason I don’t have a boyfriend, and also am not a successful show-jumping detective. I was tortured by those freckles. TORTURED. I even created a handy little pull-out booklet in which I discussed the freckles (and the other aspects of my appearance which caused me grief. Let’s just say it was a LONG booklet…) at length, and pondered how I could get rid of them, before coming to the sad conclusion that really, I couldn’t get rid of them, but that I would probably get my fringe cut before school started back in the autumn, seeing as I wasn’t allowed to have my perm straightened. (There is a helpful diagram of the fringe at this point. Yes, really.) I really wish I was making this up purely for comedic value, but I’m not: there is an ACTUAL booklet, and trust me, there is absolutely nothing funny about it, because I was TOTALLY SERIOUS YOO GUYZ.
(I also frequently mixed up “to” and “too”. I don’t know what disturbed me more when I re-read it as an adult: that or the obsession with the freckles…)
It was pretty painful reading, in other words. And also really confusing, because, just to make a mockery of everything I’ve written above, most of it – and The Idiot’s Guide to Amber’s Freckles in particular – is written as if I’m talking to someone, or possibly a LOT of someones. There’s a lot of “as you all know, my freckles are the most interesting subject in the whole entire world” and “most of you probably remember how much I hate my freckles” and that kind of thing. WHO WAS I TALKING TO? Who were the members of this massive, fictional audience who I seemed to presume were every bit as obsessed with my skincare routine as I obviously was? Did I think it would one day be published or something? Had all that perm lotion seeped into my bloodstream and driven me to the point of madness, or had I somehow, in some small way, foreseen the future of blogging, and thought I better get in some practice?
You know the funniest thing about all of this? Which is not actually particularly funny, but really kind of tragic? These days my freckles are barely even noticeable, other than in the summer, when I get a giant one right on the end of my nose, and all of the existing ones come out to say hello. And I do not care when that happens, because if I think about them at all, which I hardly ever do, I actually quite like them. They help create the illusion of some colour in my cheeks, and stop people asking me if I’m ill all the time, when all I am is pale. I cannot now, for the life of me, understand why I hated them so much. Especially when there were so many other things I could have justifiably hated instead. Hello, monobrow!
(I mean, in my younger self’s defence, the freckles were a lot more obvious when I was younger. I very much doubt they were the reason I was generally shunned by society, though. I would imagine that probably had more to do with the fact that I was the kind of girl who wrote entire booklets about her freckles…)
I wish I could go back in time and tell my 14-year-old self to stop stressing about those freckles – and all of the other things she found to obsess over. I mean, who knows, if I hadn’t spent all that time worrying about my freckles, maybe I would be in the Olympic show-jumping team by now after all? I don’t think I’d ever have made it as a detective, though. Sorry, 14-year-old self.
(You were totally right about the perm, though…)
(P.S. The title of this post is not a dig at people who don’t have freckles, although I fully expect the offended comments to roll in any second now. It’s a lyric from a song I found after writing this post, and which actually sums up what I was thinking much better than I did: “Freckles”, by Natasha Beddingfield)