Dear Body,

After all the years you have taken care of me, what have I done for you? I eat like shit, hardly exercise, get little sleep and have cheapened you into the dim light of rooms I may remember but wouldn’t want to revisit. So here it is: a long overdue apology.

I’m sorry for all the bruised shins and torn skin after nights stumbling along piers drunk and in the dark, for the volleyballs to the face and the zits I’ve popped; for the bitten lips, for the thin slices from careless shaving, for the craters left by careless piercings, for the endless burns and inevitable “fuck!” screamed above the stove, for the stinging bleach slathered on my upper lip and for all the unexcavated earwax. I’m especially sorry for that time with the at-home waxing kit.

I’m sorry for the accidents I’ve had — the knee I wrecked at age 14 when someone swept my leg during a game of two-hand touch, the finger I slammed in the car door on my seventh birthday in the parking lot of K-Mart.

I’m sorry I love whiskey.

I’m sorry to my spine — the load-bearing column creaking under the pressure of my bad posture and the weight of my enormous head.

Here’s a sorry to my rosebud tits; I’ve hated you for too long.

Here’s an apology for that year of high school when I dressed like boardwalk trash, wearing 4-inch stilettos to class through the Michigan snow. I’d prove I could run in them, sticking the heels deep into the ground like ice picks.

I’m sorry for those growing years, when my hips were widening so quickly that I’d smack them on the corners of my parents’ kitchen counter, small bruises like thumbprints appearing on my untouched skin. I’m sorry that when I realized my sex appeal, I’d sway those hips unnaturally, almost drunkenly, as I trotted down the streets of Philadelphia, expecting men to call out to me. I’d wait for them to raise their hands above their heads and shout “Yo, mamacita!” and to wet their lips, to whistle, to throw their hard hats in the air, to toss coins and roses at my feet, to lean out their windows declaring their eternal lust and love. I’m sorry I made you suffer in the name of such an embarrassing fantasy.

I’m sorry for the summers of smoke — those wild, woody bonfires and the first cigarette I choked down under a canopy of birches while I lay on the chest of a boy too old for me.

I’m sorry for those men — the mysterious one, the simple one, the army cadet, the virgin, the cheater, the foreigner, the farm boy, the musicians and the rest — not because there were too many but because many of them were unkind.

I’m sorry for those times in my life when you were more of a vessel than an accomplice, when I thought of you as something shared, more than mine alone.

But there is more than apology in order here. I have so much praise.

Thank you for these imperfect inches of skin. Thank you for acting as a receptor for beauty — those many thousands of goose bumps that rise when a jazz singer’s voice melts into the air.

Thank you for these fingers that tirelessly type, do up buttons, fold duvet covers, knead pizza dough, tie and untie laces like Penelope forever tending to the silk on her loom.

Thank you for orgasms.

Thank you for those moments of quenched thirst.

Thank you for these eyes. They watch dust motes glide over my windowsill. They watch cedar waxwings get tipsy on fermented grapes. They discover color. They communicate affection. They know when to look away from light.

Thank you for these ears listening to the red squirrels squabble inside my bedroom wall. Thanks for the smell of pizzelles browning in my Nona’s kitchen. Thanks for this tongue.

Most of all, thanks for your resilience. You’ve survived my exploitation and idiocy for more than two decades and — despite this moment of clarity — I must confess that I see no true end to my recklessness.

I’d like to make promises — to take an oath about protecting you from damage, from tumbling into unforeseen danger, from being forsaken by others. But I know I’d break these promises almost as quickly as I could make them, because I am as imperfect in will as you are in form.

I’ll still stub my toes. I’ll still take mortifying falls on black ice and spill coffee down my shirt. I’ll still wiggle my hips when the time is right. And, without a doubt, I’ll go on asking for your forgiveness because I know I’d be nowhere without you.

I am yours as much as you are mine,
Emily

Emily Pittinos can be reached at pittinos@umich.edu.

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