When I was little I was prone to sunburns. My mom often tells me about the time she forgot to put sunscreen on me when I was a baby and I burned pretty badly. She felt terribly about it. I’ve only suffered a few bad burns that I can remember and I haven’t always been particular about putting on sunscreen. For several years I didn’t burn and I never got much of a tan. The only way you could ever tell that I got any color was by looking for a watch tan or a sandal tan to see the contrast. I’ve always been on the pale side and it wasn’t until recently when somebody told me I had olive undertones in my skin that I realized I wasn’t a pasty white ghost. I still don’t see the olive, but I see that my skin is not quite like a lot of other people’s.
During the summer I freckle. The more time I spend in the sun, the more I freckle. I’ve come to love my summer freckles, and mourn their departure come fall and winter. Not everybody gets to have freckles-I’m special that way.
That all being said, I never really spent a whole lot of time in the sun. I like to take walks, go into the city, and do other normal spring and summer activities, but I’ve never enjoyed the heat or the feeling of the sun beating on my skin. I’ll take it in small doses. And this year I accepted a job as a teaching assistant which came with the job of working the school’s camp sessions. Camp practically means outdoors. Before camp started I worked the after school program which left me outside with the kids about 30-45 minutes a day. That was about 3 or 4 weeks of the school year before school let out for the summer. Camp has now been in session for 3 days and I already have significant color (for me anyhow). I have out-freckled my mother for probably the first time in my life. I have a watch tan an a ring tan despite wearing sunscreen everyday. And let’s not talk about the heat. It’s been in the mid 80s-90s for about a week.
Yesterday I volunteered at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest in the city. I had on my sunscreen and downed about 4 bottles of water within about 4 hours. There was little to no shade where I was stationed and that was taken by visitors. My feet burned the entire time and when I got home and removed my sandals I had distinct crisscross marks on my feet (but don’t worry, I won’t be sunning just to even that out). The worst part was the ache in my fingers. They weren’t sunburned but the ache was almost unbearable. I couldn’t remove my ring because my finger was so swollen. My hands had swelled in the heat and it took a few hours for that to go down.
Now I am sitting here drinking my coffee in preparation for chasing around 3-5 year old campers at the beach. I have my sunscreen on already, but seeing as dermatologists are saying that any change in pigmentation is skin damage, I’m already doomed. I told my friend Erin that I am going to die of skin cancer and her reply was, “We’re all going to die of something.” So true.
So slather on the lotion, drink lots of water, wear your sunglasses and a hat. We may all end up dying in the long run, but we might as well put up a good fight first!