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The Army of Lines

I once went to a wedding where the groom was the same age as my best friend's husband, only a few years older than us at the time. The groom, however, looked like he could have been all of our father's. He was maybe 40 at the time, but the furrow in his brow and the scowl on his face made him seem 80.

But I remember talking about it at the time and saying the reason he looked so much older is because he stopped being a child, most likely, around the age of 5. He just seemed to always be serious, wanting to keep up with the Joneses, whoever they were, and protecting his things, his expensive, audacious, big, things and clearly, he hadn't giggled in 35 years either.

We giggled so much at everything. We did accent night at a local pub, for no reason at all, we talked about ghosts and past lives and ate cupcakes until our bellies hurt. We talked about poop and laughed about gas pains. We just giggled until we cried.

I have a friend who when studying abroad in college, her boyfriend from Spain turned to her one morning and said "You have an army of lines around your eyes". Whatever the saying was in Spanish, the translation was not the compliment many women want. We laughed so hard when she told us, but then 20 years later, I have mine pointed out too.

The woman who does my Botox asked me recently "why don't we ever do your eyes?" Without hesitating I said "because they are a sign of a happy life". And she patted me on my shoulder and gave me a look that either said "awe you poor thing" or "what a surprisingly honest and innocent thing to say", she had done her eyes, so I cannot say for sure what she was thinking, except what she said was, "you're too cute" with a pat on my shoulder.

The lines around my eyes show I have laughed so hard throughout my life. Like the stretch marks on the belly of a mother, the sign of giving life. Or the dimples around my thighs are a symbol of still enjoying cupcakes from time to time.

I think I am not alone when I say I struggle with certain parts of my body. I don't like the way things look in certain clothes or the bags under my eyes show my restless sleep or that my ears are the scars of years of infections and a botched surgery. But there are these other places that remind me, I chose to giggle over anything else. Sometimes my face shows my angst or sadness, I wear my stress in my forehead (hence the Botox) and in the crick of my neck and I wear years of yoga and a childhood of ballet in my lower back and popping joints.

But I also wear my joy in my smile, in my dance moves, and in the army of lines around my eyes.

In yoga, I would teach the laughing gun pose. We would sit around in a circle, our hands clasped beneath a bent knee with our pointed feet pointing at someone across from us. We would then start to belly laugh, shaking our leg like a machine gun, circling it around the room and soon that forced laughter from the diaphragm became real, full on belly laughter with tears and falls and joy that was shooting out from the toes of each person and into the lines on their faces.

My advise to you is simple, try it one time this week, don't pressure yourself, but just go let yourself giggle. Make it fake and feel it become real. Feel your belly bounce, the tears stream down your cheeks the harder you laugh, feel the cold floor beneath you as you let yourself fall from a fit of laughter. Or go dance in the grocery story aisle to the music they play over the loud speakers, or better yet, the one playing in your head.

Show your sign of a happy, cupcake, giggle fit full life even if you have chosen to rid the army of lines from the sides of your eyes.

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Feb 21, 2023
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