Celeste Hamilton-Dennis, OR
Celeste is a freelance writer and editor for social good. Her articles and personal essays have appeared in Huffington Post, Fast Company, Idealist, GOOD, Role/Reboot, various literary journals, and more. Currently she’s an editor for the arts activism publication, OF NOTE Magazine. When she’s not being a mom to two little girls, she’s plotting her escape to the ocean, dreaming about playing the drums, and writing a short story collection based on her hometown of Levittown, New York.
As a Story Terrace writer, Celeste interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.
“Miss, my auntie can give you some cream for those,” my student Kamanie says. She points to my arm.
“For what?” I say. It’s my first day of teaching with the Peace Corps. I’m 23-years-old and in Guyana, a country in South America that is West Indian in culture and Caribbean in soul.
“For the rust on your skin,” she says. Kamanie grabs my wrist and shows me the hundreds of spots on my skin.
My freckles. She’s talking about my freckles. I can feel my face flush red like I’m back in elementary school, reading about melanin in health class, everyone’s eyes on me.
I forget about my freckles sometimes, until I’m in a place like Guyana where the locals think I’m cursed or I meet another person who rivals me in sheer number of spots per square inch of skin. I stare and think, “Is that what I look like?”
When I was younger, my equally freckled dad used to joke that somebody must’ve taken a screen, held it over my face, and splashed mud through it. I wanted my freckles to go away. But they’re stubborn things and have been witnesses to every major life event whether I’ve liked it or not.
You’d think I’d be okay with my freckles after all this time—even with random people coming up to me on the street, telling me how much they love them or wished they had them too. I always say thanks with a smile, although a tiny part of me still doubts their sincerity.
Thirteen years after I step into that Guyanese classroom, I am back in the U.S. and married with two children. My oldest daughter Hattie has inherited none of my physical traits. With straight blonde hair and hazel eyes, she could easily be the poster child for a Swedish travel agency.
“Mom!” she says one day, running over to me. “Look what I found!” I think she’s discovered leftover Halloween candy under her bed.
She rolls up the sleeve of her Hello Kitty t-shirt.
“A freckle!” she says. “Just like you.”
I guess they can’t be that bad.
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