I collect scars.
There is the one on my temple where I had a cyst removed when I was in grade school. A boy tried to make fun of my cyst by pinching the skin on his own temple and laughing at me, but his attempt failed when I laughed back at him for foolishly assuming I cared what he thought. My doctor instructed me to keep the scar covered with a bandaid. I didn't. He told me not to get it sunburned. I did.
My knees have always been covered in the scars of growing up with brothers. BMX bikes, skateboards, climbing trees and camping trips provided endless opportunities for open wounds.
Then therere is the really long scar tracing my right clavicle where a mole I'd had since childhood morphed into melanoma when I was 19 and gave us all quite a scare. All those sunburns added up. Then there is all the hole punch scars from all the moles they've removed since. Just in case. That's how it goes when you've had skin cancer.
I can hardly even see the scar on my shin Eric tried to clean off the night of our first date. I had convinced him to play in a big fountain that night and when the security guard chased us off I slipped on the wet brick, in my cute dress, and scraped my leg. I must've done something to my foot (shocker, I know) because it swelled up and wouldn't fit back in my cute strappy sandal. We sat in the parking lot of the sketchiest Circle K as he cleaned up my leg using first aid supplies and baby wipes he bought inside. Eric scrubbed the huge scar on my shin thinking it was dirt that wouldn't come off, so when I told him not to bother and explained the story of the scar, my total wipeout road rash crash on rollerblades while being pulled by my Rottweiler, as he is cleaning me up from that evening's graceful slip/fall combo, I must've seemed like quite the coordinated catch.
Little did we know I would banana-peel slip/fall the next night on our second date hike earning me the beginnings of a klutzy reputation. My cute boat shoes were no match for loose gravel. No scar from that one. Just a dent in the ol' ego. I've fallen countless times since and am currently nursing a broken pinkie to from slipping into a hot tub. Apparently it's what I do.
Scars tell stories.
One of my favorite scar collectors was my brother Jeremy. Today would have been his 36th birthday. He was the ultimate risk-taker and never met a challenge he couldn't conquer, which translates to: he was no stranger to Urgent Care.
There was the time as a child he bit his tongue nearly in half while pole vaulting with PVC pipe in our backyard, the broken hand after punching a guy who was doing something he shouldn't have been doing, the dislocated shoulder after trying crazy wakeboarding flips at the lake, and the concussion after pulling methods and a black diamond run his first time on a snowboard, just to name a few. Lucky for him a random person on the slope found him wandering down the mountain disoriented and bleeding from his head and called ski patrol to take him to the infirmary where he flirted with the nurse and got her number for later. You know after he was no longer concussed.
|Jeremy and Carsyn (2yrs) 2007|
Jeremy's brain surgery scar topped them all though. I loved it when he shaved his head rather than wait for his treatment to make his hair fall out. That scar upped the ante on BRAVE and his bald head was like WHAT. Risk was no longer simply for the rush of feeling fully alive. Risk became about simply staying alive. Those scars on his scalp beat odds and defied statistics, faced fear and mortality, dared to love and to lose. All the risks he had ever taken didn't hold a candle to the courage required to hope. Jeremy was always ALL IN. Always. He fought hard. He loved hard. He broke a lot of rules and pissed a few people off along the way. We were polar opposites when we were young, close friends as adults, and I find myself wanting to be more and more like him when I grow up.
So I collect scars and their stories. Whether they fade over time as we are constantly regenerating or go so deep they will always be visible, each one marks a space of courage, either in the acquiring or the surviving, and a thirst for life that can only be earned by trying, risking, jumping in.