Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Broken Wings

I am completely obsessed with collarbones. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment this fixation began, but I can confidently say that I think about clavicles a great deal more than what’s considered healthy. To me, beauty has become synonymous with collarbones. “You have a beautiful clavicle” is far more complimentary for me to hear than “I love your dress” or “you have great eyes.”

When I am in a clothing store, trying on dresses or tops- I don’t concentrate any longer on how big my boobs look or how small my waist appears. Instead, I check to see if my collarbones look nice. I push my shoulders forward and pull my neck back just to see just how prominent I can make my clavicle. If anyone saw me during this new ritual of mine, they would assume I was doing an impression of an anorexic bird...not so pretty.

I was watching the Oscars the other night and about an hour into them, I realized that I was paying no attention to the winners, the speeches, or even the faces of the abundant celebrities- I WAS COLLARBONE WATCHING! “She has great collarbones...hers aren’t so nice...that dress hides her neckline...she’s too skinny, she needs to put some meat on that clavicle...those diamonds look beautiful above her collarbones...that haircut looks great grazing her décolletage.” It was pathetic. I didn’t notice what I was doing until someone asked me who won best film of the year and I didn’t even know who the nominees were- I still couldn’t tell you, and I watched the show from beginning to end.

This fascination doesn’t stop there- in the gym, I check women out instead of men- I look at their collarbones! I go collarbone hunting in magazines and I no longer care how nice my hair looks in the morning- I think only of those two thin bones connecting my shoulders to my sternum. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do even before I get out of bed, is reach up and run my fingers along my collarbones. On skinny days, they are more prominent. On fat days, my collarbones hide themselves. I really don’t like those days.

I have a few ideas about my clavicle obsession. When my little sister was born, she arrived in the world with a broken collarbone. I was three years old and when I wondered out loud about the cast enveloping half of her tiny body, I was told that she had a “broken wing.” Therefore, I’ve always associated collarbones with wings. This idea was promoted further by a story I heard about my mother in Mexico when she was in her 20’s; Riding on the back of a motorcycle in Acapulco, rounding a bend near Las Brisas in the 1970’s- much to the chagrin of her parents, my mom got into a crash and broke her collarbone. This account, regardless of how many times I have heard it, always reminds me that my mom- the same mom who drove my carpool, attended my parent-teacher meetings, and made me take piano lessons every Tuesday and Thursday night- that mom was too, once a wild child. I love imagining her with her bell-bottomed low-rise jeans hanging over either side of the engine with her long blonde hair blowing in the wind, her beaded bracelets digging into her wrists as her arms were tightly wrapped around some gorgeous Latino. My mom had wings then. She may have ultimately broken her collarbone, but she was free.

So possibly this collarbone “thing” of mine is a little less superficial than I initially suspected. While I still enjoy seeing my bones in the mirror when I wake up on “skinny days,” and I can totally appreciate a gown with a great neckline, I think that for the most part, I associate collar bones with wings- and wings represent freedom- and freedom is one of the most important things in the world. Although I don’t expect my clavicle to suddenly sprout feathers and start flapping, perhaps the definition of these bones act as a reminder of freedom- the freedom to speak and act and love and simply be. Collarbones also remind me of how delicate we are- how easily we can be broken- both physically and in spirit. My mother broke her collarbone being free and my sister’s was broken before she ever even opened her eyes. I may have never broken my collarbone but I know that my freedom has cost me- because that too, is delicate...and if not handled with extreme care, it can be snapped in half just as quickly as it takes to snap a petite bone like a collarbone.

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