Friday, September 17, 2004

Scarification

Despite always having a fondness for the scars that traverse my own skin, it wasn't until I met Chris in Japan that I learned I had (for lack of a better, less controversial term) a scar fetish. We had only met once at the Halloween party just a few days after I arrived, but we had hit it off, and we were drunk on absinthe and talking frankly about so many other things that evening in Hagi. He told me he had fallen out of a tree just weeks before leaving his home in New Zealand to commence his teaching position in Japan. So what; he fell out of a tree. I've known lots of people who have fallen out of trees, myself included. But then he told me about his scar and asked seditiously, "Do you want to see it?" "Sure," I replied nonchalantly. When he removed his shirt, I knew I was in love . . . with scars! That tree all those miles away in New Zealand had marked him for life. It was as if a great limb from that tree was now growing across Chris's back, forever tying him to that event. I developed a knew appreciation of my own scars as well as the scars of others.

Many people I've met over the past couple of years have had severe scarring on their arms or faces and necks. I want to travel those smooth pink streams that must have been created by horrible torrents of pain and agony. I've even started remembering scars I've encountered in the past, before I learned of my secret fetish. For example, during my first year in college I met Liz who had a scar on her hand. One day I touched it, and she twitched for several minutes afterwards.

My own scars have developed even more significance: the nice, straight scar on my head from chasing my sisters and aunt through a barbed-wire fence on my grandma's farm when I was probably five years old; the fat, thick scar on the back of my left leg caused by a rusted bicycle seat when I was in third grade; the horizontal, grinning scar on my right hand I gave myself while cleaning out a tin can for a science project; and the tiny, nick on my nose from a metal dump truck given to me on my second birthday.

Scars tell all kinds of stories and bind you to past events and people around the globe. I know I'll never forget Chris's scar; I was even tempted to ask to see it again when we hung out in London last December. Nor will I forget Olivier's scar on his hand from a drinking glass that broke while he was washing dishes (yeah, what were the chances of that!), particularly after I cursed him in such a way as to make my Gypsy grandmother--at least the one that taught me about the evil eye--proud: "Every time you look at that scar, I hope you remember how happy we were together." Someday he will die with that scar, remembering how happy he was all those years ago.

Now I have Stephen's trinity of scars from his appendectomy a couple of weeks ago to keep my morbid fascination company:

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