I stand at the window. The moon is hidden and my feet are bare. I reach up to my face. At the point where my hairline starts, is a zipper hidden in the coils of my curls. It is made of solid chunky brass, the kind you find on vintage leather jackets. But it’s no longer shiny. I press through the softness and pull it out of my hair. Then I begin to unzip myself.
Chink by chink, the teeth releasing a metallic sigh that oozes into the air. It doesn’t hurt. I pull the zip between my eyes, down the crooked ridge of my nose, all the way past my closed lips, under the sweep of my chin, into the hollow of my throat and further down. By the time the zip kisses my belly button, the skin has started to yawn, gaping outwards and letting the light in. I continue. Downwards. The zip doesn’t catch on anything, just glides smoothly underneath me, splitting me in half. I look up. The moon is still hiding. I have to adjust my hand now. Switching it from the front, I arch my back as I pull the zip up behind me. My arm aches a little. Still, I pull up. The zip slides up my spine, knob by knob, up to the point at the back of my neck where I like to be kissed. I’m almost done. Slowly. My hair parts as I pull the zip up my spaceship shaped skull, all the way to the point where my hairline starts. Click. The metal teeth are finally fully estranged from each other. The zip is released. When I wriggle, the skin cascades down to the floor. I stand in a pool of my own skin. At my feet are the bruises of years gone by. Calloused and scarred. Then I step out, toes first, followed by heel, the way you see moisturized women in films walk out of their shimmery gowns after a night out, before the night in begins. I stand there in my new skin. My fresh unblemished new skin.
I wait for a moment.
Nothing. I still feel like myself. Trapped inside my own skin. Restrained. I sink my fingertips into my hair probing for the new zip. Maybe if I go deeper, peel away more layers, I’ll be released, I’ll find freedom.
I think about other creatures that shed their skin. I think about the butterfly. From a creature that hugs the earth, into one that soars through the skies. Her journey begins as a caterpillar who eats and eats and eats, stuffing herself full and growing little by little until she feels herself outgrowing herself. Then she carefully lays down a mat of silk before crawling out of her old skin. She does this about five times. One day she stops eating. She hangs upside down from a tree and spins a shell of silk around her body. Then she starts to devour herself. Cannibalizes her own body. Only when the enzymes have dissolved everything from her old self that needs to go, does she start to build what she will need in her next life.
Then she emerges.
It isn’t magic. Simply a process; a series of steps that she completes, one after the other, until eventually, she becomes the ethereal white fluttering butterfly darting in the shadows of Karura Forest.
I will have to eat myself.
Devour up and feed on everything that has made me who I am, to turn into what I need to become. I pick up my old skin and fold it over my arms. I run my new fingertips over it, tenderly whispering my gratitude. It has caressed my body and kept me held together for a long time. Then I roll it up and throw it out of the window onto the grass beneath. Next to the jasmine tree, it will dissolve into the moist soil, as the earth absorbs my pain and joy, the anguish and triumphs, accepting who I was into its very core, and allowing me to become part of itself. It will shoulder this burden that I have shrugged off.
I walk into my bathroom. Reach for the sandalwood fragranced lotion. The white liquid slithers out onto my new pink palm. I rub it on the tender skin of my legs. The skin glistens.
Outside, the neighborhood is drunk. Fireworks shatter the darkness. The expulsion of an old year feels like a forced purge. A noisy emptying of the bowels so that we can start afresh. The year is new.
But I’m still the old me. Even in my new skin. Even at 12:01 on 2018.
To 2018. May it be what you need it to be.
photo credit: Doundounba <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8613864@N08/28170968971″>Backyard Butterfly</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>