Some people turn to drink, or smoking, or drugs. Lots of children these days fiddle with those pointless fidget spinner thingies; executives have Newton's Cradles on their desks. Teachers fiddle with Blu-Tac; sports people throw their balls around. Nearly everyone wanks; some people, if they are lucky, fuck.
I fiddle with the holes in my body.
I am fascinated by skin. Mine has been tattered and torn more times than I'd care to remember, yet it heals. Wounds knit, scabs form and come off. Hairs grow and, whether they've been shaved off, plucked out by The Oxford Seamstress (who was dangerous in possession of tweezers) or, in the case of my head hair, just fallen out, they grow back. Keratin forms and my nails grow long; my skin stretches when I yawn. I scratch; I stroke myself. At night, when I sleep naked, my skin warms me.
And yet, for all this, I am more than a little fascinated by the holes.
My left arm, decorated as it is by the healed scars of self-harm scratches and falling on a very sharp rock, hides a number of little dips in the crook formed by my elbow. These, when I was 11, used to be warts which, again, I fiddled with - batted them back and forth, gently, with the fingers of my right hand - picked up, I imagine, from my weekly Tuesday swimming lessons. Further up, there is another, near my armpit: my BCG scar, a little depression in my body covered by a thin, stretchy layer of skin; almost exactly opposite, on the crook of my right arm in approximately the same place, is another - the remnant of a boil fixed by antibiotics when the pain landed me in A&E.
Run fingers through my hair and I feel the bump from my recent head surgery, or the one formed when I fell back onto concrete while acting (the scene looks amazing, though). Rub my eyes and feel what's left of the chalazion that troubled me before Eroticon; a nail along my lower lip and feel the rough edge of a spot that used to be there. On my foot there was a corn, which I removed with gel, waiting for it to dry while reading Tamora Pierce on top of my bed. Trace down my neck, my back, and my arse, and they're there. Flecks of skin covering wounds of the past.
I am fascinated. In awe. And yet, when I'm in my most mindless of moments - when distracted and I need something to touch - that's when I come to them the most. In summer, with bare arms, I often catch myself stroking my own skin, running the rough against the smooth, not happy with my own body but comfortable with what my skin provides.
So if you ever see me sitting with my arms crossed, twitching a little, inspecting my elbow or hugging myself with my head bowed, don't be alarmed. I may not even be too defensive, after all. Maybe I'm just being guided, unconsciously, towards the holes.