Do you all remember young love? When you really like someone and you’re pretty sure that person really likes you too and maybe you both have the same day off so you spend most of it in bed, making stupid jokes that will carry you through a few years of a relationship, talking nonsense to each other, holding the palms of your hands together and marvelling at the simple miracle that you both have fingers… and maybe you trace a white line in his eyebrow and say,
“How’d you get that?”
“I was riding my bike over the Brooklyn Bridge at 3 in the morning…” he explains, and you listen, rapt. And then he touches a divet on your shin and asks how you got that and you tell him all about this crazy house you used to live in that had the tiniest, twistiest, most unevenly built stairway ever, and how you used to run up those stairs, three flights of them, without turning on the lights… and then you examine his appendectomy scar as though it holds some essential truth about him, and he in turn marvels over the shiney patch on your foot from that scooter accident and so the afternoon wears on,
“Is it really two? Jesus. We should at least get something to eat.”
“In a minute. Come here.”
What happens to those bodies of knowledge and knowledge of bodies when they’re no longer needed?
The lovely part of spring is finally here. The days are warm and monotonously lovely. I’ve acquired sunburns one, (shoulders, back of neck) and two (nose, decolletage), I’ve had to readjust to life without coat pockets, and I’ve laundered all my summer frocks. And of course my legs are in bloom with a rash of lovely purple bruises.
“What on earth happened to your leg?” C asked the other day. “Has he been beating you?”
“No, nothing that exciting,” I said. “I’m naturally clumsy and in the spring I’m more active so…”
“Oh that’s a bad combination.”
“Indeed. It’s a joke back home that I should be wrapped in bubblewrap and issued a helmet and mouthguard.”
I frowned at my calf, and noticed the tail end of a scar curling around. My God, skin doesn’t heal so well after thirty.
It got me thinking about how the map of my body has changed since I came here. Old scars have faded substantially, (you have to really look to see the one from the scooter now. By the way, kids, patent leather mary-janes with the most adorable buttons ever are not good motor-cycling shoes) new scars have erupted all over the place.
My hand for one: that pinky will never be right again.
And then there’s the scar on the back of my leg:
That’s a good one, eh? When I was at Dilko I complained that I wanted a conference table set-up instead of a ring of school desks
So my boss’s solution was to install tables and cut the desk parts off the chairs with a hacksaw. (His ideas were always just so close to being good.) For about three days I was really careful of the jagged desk-stumps on the sides of the chairs and then one night a student asked me a question, I whirled around real fast to scribble some grammar rule on the board, and the metal edge caught my calf. I was on so many painkillers at that time because of my hand that I didn’t feel it, and it wasn’t until I felt blood trickled into my shoe a moment later that I realized something was wrong. I probably should have gotten stitches, but I figured I was on enough anti-biotics to kill a microbe the size of a horse and I’d spent way too much time in hospitals recently anyway.
My foot was recently mauled by both a ferry gangplank and a cat in the same week.
I fell and skinned my knees to fewer than three times this winter. (I blame the sidewalks, which are all, to a paving stone, trying to kill you.)
They’re all purpley and I don’t think the skin will ever be right. I cut another divet out of my leg below the divet from the house with the twisty staircase. It was a shaving accident aggravated by pantyhose and inability to remember to buy bandaids. Every night when I’d come home and peel off my tights another small chunk of leg would come with them. I might not, when I come to think of it, have the best self-preservation instincts.
So these are the ways Istanbul has marked me. You? You got any good travel scars?