Four years old, and my father’s hands were so big.
In our first house, the garage was the weight room. His domain.
I spent hours in there, chasing our cat or pretending to drive the car. I always watched him, Daddy, freckled arms in a white shirt, stacking weights on the lat machine. The rise of the carriage as he pulled down the bar, the sound of metal rattling on metal.
I still hear that sound in my mind, ten years past the last time I lived at home. He still has that machine, in the basement now.
Sometimes he would pick me up and set me on top of the plates for a set, I added an extra thirty pounds and had a grand old time, riding up and down like a roller coaster.
He always wore lifting gloves, black or gray. Velcro wrists and palms lined with leather. So many pairs over the years, wearing them early in the morning, or after work. I would slide them over my tiny hands, laughing when my finger tips wouldn’t even pass the seam below the first knuckle. They were huge, Dad has big hands.
Now that I’m grown, my own hands are also large, but the bones are finer, more like the hands of my mother.
I used to put his spare gloves on my hands and follow him around with a little pair of two-pound hand weights covered in green foam. I would imitate his bicep curls and struggle with each move, breathing through my teeth like he did when rounding out a heavy set.
I think he originally purchased the green weights for Mom, but I would pretend they were just for me. They definitely weren’t for him, a man who considers twenty pounds to be paltry and light.
Whenever I think of those gloves and those hours, I feel comforted. I feel safe.
Even in the midst of serious trouble, the scent of mingled metal and leather is a balm.
I remember each pair of gloves as it died, worn out, the leather in the palms cracking and the velcro rendered useless, all different makers and colors. They all feel the same on my hands, and breathe into my heart that nostalgic, metallic peace.
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