Dear Anita,

Are our scars what make us…us?

The mistakes that teach hard lessons; the accidents that force new paths.

My first scar was given upon birth, a large hemangioma on my left upper thigh. The tangled mass of blood vessels and fatty tissue never fully resolved. It says many things about me: that I am Caucasian, that I am female, that I was premature. I tend to shy away from short shorts because of it. I worry over beach season.

I have a divot above my right eyebrow. A depression the size of an eraser. My mini-crater caused by an eight-year-old’s inability to refrain from scratching. Evidence of my birth before the chickenpox vaccine. Evidence of my low tolerance for physical sensation.

There is a red line on my knee shaped like a lazy “m” or a child’s drawing of a far away seagull. As a young girl I was too curious, too hungry to be out in the world, shoes off, running. Never mind the uneven pavement, the broken glass.

A hard bulge on my right wrist. A poorly healed fracture. I jumped backwards off a swing set when I was ten. Landed wrong. Radius and ulna broken clean in two.

I’d love to say that I learned the good lessons from these scars, but I took the bad lessons instead. To be more fearful, more anxious, more self conscious. Why couldn’t I have learned to be more graceful? Compassionate to my human foibles? I am just as clumsy as the four-year-old on the pavement, the ten-year-old on the swing set.

Evidence?

What is sure to be my newest scar. A bright purple, tender burn the size of a nickel below my left middle finger.

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Good god is that sucker itchy!

Lovely, isn’t it? At least it’s not blistered anymore.

You know, I’ve made chicken a thousand times. Bone-in thighs, skin on. A twist of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Oil over medium high. Into the oil skin side down until rich and golden and brown, then turned. Into a 400 degree oven until cooked through.

But this time the chicken slipped. Through the tongs and into the oil. A glorious splash. It got the counter and the floor mat, the knife block and the mug tree. My poor, tender, pasty-skinned hand.

What is there to learn? Don’t cook when you’re tired? Don’t pour in that last extra tablespoon of oil when the bottle’s almost empty?

Oh, who cares. I won’t learn the lesson anyway! I’ll just collect my scars, hopefully live another day to make more.

Clumsily,

Cassie

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