A few years ago, my dad’s office chair at home broke. Like, you couldn’t raise the height of the seat so your chin was even with the desk. Standing in the foyer, Ex held the back of the new chair and I bent down to grab a hold of the base, a collection of steel tentacles with wheels. Except because it was a swivel chair, the top spun to the left and the bottom spun to the right. We both lost our grips, sending the base right into my leg. I screamed a string of expletives before dropping to the floor to clutch my shin. The wound healed but the evidence has remained, a thin white line a few inches up from my ankle.
I also have a scar on the top of my left foot. Two summers ago, while visiting Leslie in Atlanta, I played with the kids in the pool. Anders was leaping off the side and Olivia was sitting on the steps pouring water into teacups. At a certain point, I decided to swim back to the shallow end. I lowered my head, moved my arms and kicked my legs. Except the top of my left foot kicked right into a pebbled ledge just below the surface.
There was no question I had hurt myself, but I didn’t realize how badly until I was sitting on a chaise. Exposed to the air, the cut gushed blood. I bandaged it up but since there was little separating the flesh from the bone, the cut continuously reopened. It wasn’t until September that the scab finally fell off. I was left with a scar similar to the one near my ankle. Although, because of the location, this one was easier to see.
I have other scars too. There’s a dark spot on my right cheek from the Chicken Pox. I have a brown spot midway up my left arm from when I knocked into a burning cookie sheet. And I have a scar on my right palm, the result of a sharpened pencil piercing the flesh. I don’t recall how it happened. But I do recall my second grade teacher going pale when I held out my open hand to show her a gnawed up yellow pencil sticking straight out of it.
And then there are the scars you can’t see. Like the time Ex told me I was never thin enough. Or when Alaska said he didn’t love me. You may not be able to examine my exterior to see the evidence of those cuts, but they both left scars. They no longer ache and they no longer bleed. But there is no denying evidence of those gashes.
Earlier today, while sitting at lunch, I crossed my leg. When I glanced down at my Mary Jane, the patent trim reflecting the light, I could see the scar on the top of my foot. Looking at the thin slice of white, I smiled. It isn’t that I’m a masochist. I don’t take pleasure in the pain that comes with a bloody bruise. It’s that scars remind me I have survived. Without question, it’s been tough getting here. It was never easy bandaging the wound as I clenched my teeth to fight against the pain. But at least none of it took me down. And in the end, that’s all that really matters.