This is a re-blog of a 2011 post. I needed to be reminded of my own words!
I’m standing in the check-out line at Publix: my favorite grocer of southern region fame. A slender, young black child with a head full of twisted knots observes my left wrist and blurts,
” I like your tattoo.”
Like an emotionally bruised adult, I replied “thank you,” but didn’t let a nano second lapse before I disrupted the compliment’s fermentation and allowed self-deprecation to ensue. I am self-conscious because I have an awkward forearm scar on the same, tattooed arm and Penny-negatives began to spew out of my mouth like a montage of verbal sewage.
“Yeah I like it too, but it’s so over-shadowed by all of these other scars on my arm and then there are these three other adjoining scars…and then there’s this, and then…”The scars of which I spoke are ugly remnants of a late-night, post-surgical, mirror-mishap inspired by a God-less drug called, Oxycontin.
Some physician’s claim no one should ever take it; an emergency room quack prescribed it and then a desperate me ingested the deadly sweet tart delights like a pharmaceutical junkie back in 2008 or 09…one of those years.
I just KNEW that mirror was the door, but loose chards of glass helped me realize – it wasn’t! My left hand flew up and guarded my face; even vanity can survive a drugged stupor.
Clearly, my “nappy-about-the-head” angel-boy saw my scars, but his childhood innocence apparently knew nothing regarding an adult’s inherit need to squash compliments simply because we allow ourselves to be ruled by what’s deemed unattractive.
I am horribly self-conscious about my scarring. My belly bears the brunt end of many a scalpel’s tale, but even my right buttock has a battery-inserted story to tell. A vertical line runs straight down my spine as though the neurosurgeon used a straight-edged ruler to implant my spinal cord stimulator, and my left flank hosts a crooked smile with a keloid’s grin following a left nephrectomy. In doctorese, thats a surgical procedure to remove a kidney. As for the latter, cool clothes hide scars, but a bikini will never make the radar. I am officially a one-piece, Speedo owner for life.
Wide-eyed boys in super market chains don’t look at me and see skid marks and scars under my attire. They look at me and see beauty beyond a tattoo, at least this child did. So, in 21st century, pop culture fashion, he shuts down my “blah, blah, blah,” with the poignant and plaintiff,
“Why don’t you make it a rose?”
My forearm scar is a thin line that owns an angle, much like a floral stem. He took the liberty to run his index finger across my skin to demonstrate his suggest, and yes, I absolutely could see a petaled flower blooming at its definitive end. His touch was gentle, his confidence remarkable, and the sensibility of a rose both fascinated and humbled me. I was inspired by a child I’ll never see again, but one I also will never forget.
The lesson is that beauty exists in everything, and it’s my own internal fractures that compromise 20/20 vision. I have been appropriately prompted by a child to see either a jagged scar, or the beauty of an emerging bouquet. I don’t know if an actual tattoo will ever manifest, but what I do know is that a dominant left-handed me, now looks forearm down and sees the stemmed end of a would-be rose.
My new acuity leaves no room for thorns.
Penny Dickerson 2011