Scars and their Memories

Every once in a while something will happen in my life that takes me back to a memory that is, by now, several years old. I reflect on the memory, and then find myself caught in a tide of reminiscing. I will look at all my pictures on facebook, re-read blog entries in the various places I’ve written them, and even facebook stalk people who were part of my life years ago. When I do this, I inevitably end up thinking about how many people from my high school have kids. Some of them are married, some are not. There are broken relationships in my past, and ones that I’ve held onto regardless of how long it has been since I last saw that person.

Yesterday I made a really awesome scrapbook-esque wall decor item for my bathroom. I’d love to share an image, but I’m waiting until dad’s fancy camera arrives in the mail later this week. I finished my project, and pushed my creation, along with its backing into a picture frame. There was a quiet pop of pressure releasing, and I knew what had happened. I had applied too much force in one part of the glass on the front, and had broken at least part of the face on my photo frame. I flipped it over, and observed the damage. As I turned the frame over, I glanced at my index finger, and quickly slipped down memory’s rabbit hole.

It was ten days after graduation, a couple of months after I turned 18. My parents had already gone to bed, and suggested I do the same. I had laid out clothes for the next day, when we were to drive to the coast to celebrate my brother’s 21st birthday with him where he was working at a summer camp. I was about to go to bed, but had to finish wrapping a gift for my boyfriend’s graduation party the next day. I’d looked through the pictures of us that had been taken over the course of the previous year. We stood beside each other at dances and other school events, we sat by each other on an ocean wall, and we grinned at the camera in a photo from graduation. I selected four photos that represented our year together, and put them into a frame. Like last night, the glass broke when I was almost finished putting it all together. I looked down at my hand and gasped.

Blood streamed from a cut on my finger and dripped down my arm. I woke up my parents, trying not to disturb them too much, and asked for a bandage. Well, needless to say, we were at the emergency room 30 minutes later. I ended up with three stitches and an oversized wad of gauze adhered to my finger by the time we left the hospital at 2 am. I got several strange looks the next day while we were with my brother, to which I responded with my usual justification for unusual and unpleasant circumstances, “At least I got a story out of it!” The morning passed smoothly and I think my brother enjoyed his birthday. Oddly enough, this was the first day I met his (now) wife, though I did not give her presence much thought at the time. 

I arrived at my boyfriend’s graduation party a few hours later. When he saw my hand and opened his gift, I explained what happened. I ended my tale with an aside to him. I gestured my head towards my swollen finger and said, “No matter what happens with us, whether we’re together for another month or forever, I’ll always have this reminder of you in my life.”

I still bear the scar from that episode. It isn’t very large, and if I didn’t mention it, you wouldn’t notice its existence. There are other scars though, ones that are even less visible. They hide in pictures and memories that I have tried to forget. I can move far away and leave old letters untouched in a drawer, but my memories sit in my mind. Booby traps hold me in my mind, in a place that defies time and feels both like a lifetime ago and mere days past. When the passage of time and distance can mean both everything and nothing, it’s hard to focus on the present.