The sun has never been my best friend.
Or to put it more correctly, my skin and sunlight never did get along the way you’d expect them to. There’s a reason you won’t find many pictures of mine which reveal my forearms or the nape of my neck. If you do, they would have been captured from a safe distance, so as to obscure or at least partly camouflage the tell-tale signs of Mr. Sun’s rays.
It must have been around 18 years ago when my tryst with the Master of heat began to take its toll on my tender epidermis. I’d venture out in the day, without sunscreen or a hat, only to come home with reddish welts on the arm. Being young and reckless, I brushed it aside as the natural outcome of a sunny day.
As the years rolled by, two things grew side by side. One was the intensity of summer (hello, global warming!) and the other was the indelible mark of a burnt skin, red at first and browning to a dark shade of black later. Full-sleeved tops came out of the closet and if I had to wear a short-sleeved blouse, I’d make sure to keep my arms crossed behind my back when talking to people. Curious stares and probing questions did little to minimise the annoyance I felt already.
Five years later, Mr. Right came along and the nature of my skin condition did not seem to bother him. Of course, maybe he was just being polite, I reasoned with myself. Plus, it couldn’t get any worse than it already was.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Cut to 2012 and I made a new friend- Urticaria. Contrary to the seductive nature of his name, he quickly became my worst enemy. Rashes would erupt on any part of my skin without warning at any given time of the day. A casual dinner with friends would be peppered with people nudging me and whispering that I had a red streak on my throat or an angry bump on my wrist. Sighing, I would tell them that it was a skin condition for which there was no known trigger or cure.
Finally, I decided that enough was enough and that it was time to consult a dermatologist. She took one look at my red welts and burnt skin and said, ‘You need a chemical peel.’ Apparently, she would burn the top layer of skin off, wait for the new skin to grow back and then repeat the process every week for 4 months. She then quoted the figure that this procedure would cost. It’s a good thing I was sitting down. I gulped and asked, ‘And that will make it go away?’
She looked me in the eye and shrugged, ‘Nothing is foolproof.’
Thanking her, we left the clinic and as I walked to the car, feeling particularly blue, my husband took my hand in his, looked me in the eye and said, ‘You know I’ll love you always, rashes and all.’
In that moment, I knew that the Sun may not have been my best friend, but he certainly ensured that I threw my lot in with the best friend I could have asked for.
For Yeah Write # 194