Upon my right hand sit the marks of a puppy who doesn’t yet know his teeth are sharp. I look at my wrist, covered in golden bangles and think back to when I was just a child, a cast covering my right wrist. This right arm of mine is the lesser used. I also think of the movie ‘Where the wild things are’ and how at one point one of the characters loses his arm, and his main disappointment was that ‘he liked that arm’. I, too, like this arm, and don’t anticipate it being lost, but I also recognize that it isn’t the arm on which I depend, it isn’t an identity marker for me.
In so many cultures, the right arm holds the place of ‘rightness’ or cleanliness. As a left handed person, my life has been filled with using scissors for right-handed people, figuring out how to open doors meant for right handed people (did you even know that was a thing?), and other right-handed items that made life ‘out of the box’ pretty interesting (read challenging).
Now I live in a culture where eating with the left hand is still considered unacceptable (though folks are changing slowly), and I am steadily encouraged to eat with my right hand. In rebellion, I have continued eating with my left hand (except for some occasions with strangers). Surprisingly, I have come to depend on my not-right-hand as some sort of identity marker. I have had some identity issues in this foreign land, like what things I will give up to live in such a different culture than my born into culture, but being left-handed seems to be stuck, more so than my name!
Who knew that identifying myself as a left-handed person would mean so many things—my desire to different and unique from others, my lack of following the crowd mentality, my ability to look/feel different among a crowd who value collectivism.
I am the only left-handed person in my family (maybe my brother would have been too, but he does most things right-handed. A story for another time) and now I sit very far away, in a room full of men speaking a very different language, discussing Semantics in their respective languages, and I am thinking about how my life is so very different than the norm. I guess that is the part of my identity I hold onto with my left hand, being different. Yet, that’s all right too, right?
Written for the #fiveminutefriday writing prompt.