February 18, 2021
Image by 
Z

Paws and Claws

February 18, 2021

In art class, as Z can certainly attest, most are asked at least once to draw their own hands. This was never an assignment I looked forward to. Most people realize that hands are pretty tricky to draw, but mine offered an extra challenge. I have something called boutonniere deformity. It sounds like it could be a serious thing, but really, it’s just something that can happen where instead of your fingers straightening, they form a sort-of zig-zag shape. Mine is in all of my fingers, so I suppose I’ll never be able to properly pray. But I’ll live.

Z’s fingers are also extensionally challenged. His long fingers curve in toward his palm, tightened ligaments stretched across the back of his hand. This is one of many similarities that Z and I have discovered through the course of getting to know each other. Some seem important, like that we both enjoy sleeping in and never leaving our apartment, we both grew up with the feeling that we would eventually achieve artistic greatness, and we both have exactly one episode of a podcast recorded on our computer that we will never release. Other things seem more serendipitous, like that we both have matching back scars from spinal fusions, or that poor circulation has left our toenails looking like sets of abalone shells.

I find beauty in these works of chance. They create symmetry in our relationship. Z’s hands in particular, look so perfect wrapped up in mine. Our curved, swerved, zig-zagging fingers interwoven. His are slender and long, mine long but a bit thicker. His nails are usually painted, tightly curved, so thick I could string the clippings together into a suit of armor and storm into battle.

I admit, they are one of my favorite parts of his body and anybody’s body really. Yes, hands are tools, they separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, but they can also comfort, act as a tether between two people. Holding hands is something I cherish doing with my friends, my family, and now with Z.

My Mom is an expert hand holder, I’ve learned everything I know from her. She draws small circles on the back of my hand when I’m upset and runs fingers through my hair and down my neck to soothe me. The tiny circles, I’ve discovered, are key. I had a theatre teacher tell me and my scene partner once, that the hand holding in our scene should feel as intimate as a kiss. Little did he know that sometimes I find holding hands even more intimate than kissing. Is that strange?

When Z’s hands work against gravity they climb across surfaces like mountain climbers. Sometimes I feel them climbing me, stepping and skipping across my back, my hips, my arm. They roll from side to side, use momentum to get from place to place. It’s one of those things that I love without reason. Just a quirk, but people are made up of quirks. He too draws little circles atop my hands when he holds them. It is more of those acts of chance, I guess, that he can attest to art class exercises, that we both have bent fingers, that he draws circles like my mother, that I love to watch little mountain climbers as they roll and build momentum. It doesn’t feel like they should be important, but they are. They really are.

~R

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.