I carry memories in my body.
The scar on my right shin is from my attempt to waterski at age 9 that ended in a trip to the emergency room and 17 stitches. I remember it as the day I learned boats have sharp motor blades and pain is not always felt immediately.
I have silver in my left middle finger leftover from a high school art class where I learned solder, melt and pour medal, and make jewelry. It’s also the class where I was first introduced to The Beatles and I will always associate them with young love.
My right thumb will never bend all the way since I broke two bones while snow skiing. I took two more runs before it swelled to the point that my glove would no longer fit and I figured I should probably go to the medical center to get it X-rayed. I was 18 by then but I guess I still hadn’t learned that shock can delay pain.
When I lived in seasonal climates, my hair had sections of blonde like rings in a tree that marked the summer months when the sun bleached it light. I now live with permanent tan lines and can remember exactly which blouse or swimsuit I was wearing on a particularly sunny day just from the lines on my skin.
I carry memories in my body. Some are lodged deep somewhere between my muscle and bone. The memories that my body remembers maybe better than my mind.
I have friends who as soon as I see them, my face beams and I feel laughter welling up in my belly. So many days and years of laughing together until we could not speak and tears streamed down our faces that now my body remembers how I feel when I am with them without even being prompted.
One day last week, my arms felt almost too heavy to lift and the weight on my shoulders made it difficult to stand straight. I had slept well. I wasn’t sick. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me until I looked at the calendar and realized it was a formerly special anniversary. My body carried my grief even though my mind had not remembered.
I carry memories in my body. Most of them I did not choose to store there.
I have been contemplating a tattoo for several years now. A small line of text on the inside of my left wrist. The word and the script have changed over time but the desire to have a permanent symbol intentionally marked on my body has not. At one point I wanted the word “beautiful” (jamila) in Arabic script. When I told the guy I was dating at the time, he smiled and asked me, “Why would you want that when it’s already written all over your body?”
It is one of the sweetest compliments I have ever received, but it also made me stop and wonder for a minute: what else does my body say? What can you read just by looking at me?
I carry memories in my body. We all do. What do yours tell you?