Monday, August 18, 2014


When I was 22, I can still remember coming out of wrist surgery and looking over at a clock in the recovery room, realizing with a sense of dread how late it was. It had turned out to be the worst scenario that the doctor had warned me was a possibility. Still, in the haze that follows being under general anesthesia for hours and being on the strongest pain medications available, my first fully-formed thought accompanied by a burst of tears was "how can I ever take engagement pictures with this horrible scar on my left hand?". It was very rational.

I, like every person who has ever walked outdoors, have plenty of scars. There's my wrist surgery "stigmata" as my brother so lovingly calls it (It's a long line from the open surgery, then several ports from the scope, which make it look like a cross). Among others, there's the coral gash scar on my leg from when I was snorkeling in Hawaii at age 7. The scar on my elbow from rollerblading when I was 9. My knee surgery scar. The line on my forehead which looks like a weird part line that I got after falling off the table that I was dancing on when I was 2. And, the 2cm long fingernail-shaped scar on my right hand from a fight with my sister when I was 10. Typically, when we trip on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, slide into 2nd base wrong, or kick a soccer ball into our face, the marks will only last a few weeks or months. But occasionally, they stay with you forever.

My newest acquisition came from an ethereal night in Virginia, where I found myself surrounded by dark mysterious woods, a thick rising mist, and more lightning bugs than I had ever seen in my in life. It was magic. I found a perfect hiding spot during a game in a large, seemingly flawless shrub. I could still tell you its exact location. After jumping into this bush for cover, I quickly discovered its hidden barbs. In total, I got 4 thorns in my hand that night. I half-heartedly tried to get them out, then abandoned my attempts, figuring I would take care of them later. An important part of this story is mentioning that it was Friday the 13th. Two months later, I have a large incision following the length of my knuckle and 6 sutures closing up the surgery required to remove one of the thorns which had taken residence on my tendon.

So seemingly beautiful.

To be honest, I haven't always been in the happiest of moods concerning this sequence of events. Sometimes, I find it hilarious and will laugh out loud thinking about it. Other times I feel frustrated and get overwhelmed with the injustice of it all. Yeah, I'll always have a mark now on my finger. Currently, with the sutures still in, and the discomfort of it being over a joint, it's hard not to notice. Over time, it won't hurt, but will become only a reminder of my thorny mistake. Some scars are worth it, and accompany amazing experiences and events. Sometimes, it can just seem arbitrary and unmerited. The key is to make peace with it. If I walked around the rest of my life angry at the thorn bush, it wouldn't get me anywhere. It's a thorn bush. It always has been, it always will be. I maybe didn't see that at first, but that doesn't change what it is. Hanging onto feelings of righteous indignation won't make the scar go away, it won't take away my discomfort, and it certainly won't stop the thorn bush from snagging other unsuspecting game participants. All I can do is wish that shrub the best of luck with its barbed existence and never play outside again. Or wear gloves at all times.