I don’t know precisely when I noticed the wrinkle. It runs across the middle of my forehead, flanked by a smaller one above my eyebrows and another closer to my hairline. They are the wrinkles that only show when you raise your eyebrows in surprise. The skin around my eyes remains smooth, not yet softening to crepe. I lean in to study my face in the mirror, searching for others, examining a line on the right side of my mouth to determine if it is a wrinkle yet. I touch the skin, it seems firm. I make faces, checking for lines that don’t smooth out. The three furrows across my brow remain, nothing a good filter or a little distance wouldn’t remove. I make a mental note to research Botox and swear to myself I’ll start using the expensive and neglected Retin-A tonight.
I turned 28 in October, perhaps that’s when I noticed the lines. A permanent mark of surprise. Have I really been surprised so often that its become permanent? Maybe my grandmother was right, if you make a face it will stay that way. I look at them more closely, thinking about all of the amazing things that have happened to me, things that have caused me to raise my eyebrows. Fabulous and shocking and awesome and terrible things, casting a shadow of time passing. The wrinkles stand steady, reminding me that age is sneakily leaving its imprint on my body. I search the faces of my loved ones, wondering about the wrinkles creasing their face. Wondering which lines will show up first on my little brother.
We’re three months out and sometimes when its quiet I can feel the fear slithering around somewhere deeper than my stomach. It whispers about missing the opportunity for children, about leaving our jobs, abandoning the security of home, poverty. I can feel the goosebumps raising on my skin when I imagine the world beyond everything we know, the monstrous things that live outside of our bubble. I can almost feel the scythe against my neck, and suddenly I can breathe again. I remember we all die. I close my eyes and run my fingers across my forehead, you can’t feel them yet but eventually you will. Its already harder to leave than it was when we thought of the trip three years ago. I know that if I don’t roust the fear from my soul it will nest there, it will gain a hold, it will stop us. I imagine leg cramps on a bus ride, the way it smells deep in the Amazon, feeling your lungs burn on top of Kilimanjaro, swimming with the brush of jellyfish against my legs, and breathing in the sulfur of a volcano that burns blue. I imagine dying a million different ways in a million different places. That’s the worst that could happen. I glance at my wrinkles, I think that’s worth the risk.0