Monday, December 7, 2015


I read this essay at the StorySlamMN! on October 6th of this year at Kieran's Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis. That month's theme was "Scars."

I have a big scar on my right shoulder. I got it as an infant. My parents said I knocked over a cup of coffee. That story sounds less convincing the older I get, but they’ve given me no reason to doubt it, so I still accept it. I’m sure it must’ve been very painful when it happened, but I have no memory of any pain. It’s never been tender or sore. It just looks weird, like someone cut a gash along my shoulder with a sword. It feels weird too, like the network of nerves were exposed to the air, died and fossilized. 

When I was a kid, I was self-conscious about it. I played basketball, so whenever we went “shirts and skins,” I hoped to be on the shirts team. If I was a skin, there would usually be a few confused or even disgusted looks at my shoulder by other kids. The guy guarding me would sometimes ask what happened to it in the same tone of voice that you would ask someone how they came to be a double amputee. 

But those were minor inconveniences. It was only my sensitivity that inflated them to serious concerns. In adolescence, I found plenty of other things to be self-conscious about, and the scar moved to my brain’s back burner. As an adult, I’ve effectively forgotten about it. I’m only occasionally reminded of it, if I happen to catch a glimpse of it in the bathroom mirror.

If only emotional scars were like that: painless marks easily hidden and forgotten. My body has proved to be much more resilient than my heart.

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