I’m sitting in a park under the shade of a tree. Its early but the sun’s been out long enough to warm the patch of grass I’ve parked myself. Its a new city so things are still a little alien. Slowly I’m feeling my way round, tuning into the same frequency of the machine, each street a new page to turn, a huge maze to explore, a puzzle to solve.
A homeless guy nearby is stirring. Appearing from behind the bushes he spent last night, blinking in the sunlight and wiping last night’s sleep from his eyes. Stretching and scratching his hair out like a dog when it finds the sweet spot.
I’m looking at my hands, scanning the lines that show my age and the scratches from my new neighbours cat. Its friendly enough but we’re both at that early stage. Wary of each other, unsure how much we should let each other in.
I look at the scars on my knuckles from another life so long ago. A teenager not understanding his place in the world. Lost, looking for answers and having no real guidance on what to do. Lashing out through frustration: bins, walls, windows. Real violence in the action but answers never quite coming. Pain lasting seconds but the scars forever etched, a reminder of where I came from.
I have another scar under my right thumb. I trace it and feel the lump that’s been there for as long as I can remember. I must have been 8 or 9 when I got that. A vague memory of sliding down a grass verge on a flattened piece of cardboard like some speed racer.
I caught my hand on broken glass and sliced it open. I ran all the way home crying, hoping to be healed. I got a plaster and cuddle. I have a few good memories of living in that house. Sometime later my parents split up and we moved away. The scar another reminder of where I came from.
I tried cutting myself once. I don’t think I ever told anyone but I took a craft knife and made a small slice in my arm. Not too deep but enough to draw a little blood and feel a blunt pain. The cut healed and whatever faint scar disappeared over time, now covered in tattoos. I never tried it again. It didn’t quite take care of the frustration I felt.
A scar can be a physical thing to remind you of an action, that you’re human and fragile in the shell you inhabit. It can also be emotional. Whether it be an insecurity, grief, post traumatic stress or, god forbid, a form of abuse. These mental scars can run a lot deeper than anything physical.
The homeless guy has moved on. Looking for breakfast, money, alcohol or even his next fix. I have no idea and I’m not judging. Whatever his reasons for living like he does are his.
The park is starting to come alive with people. Business folk, mothers and children, students. I wonder how many have scars, hidden deep inside. How many harbour those insecurities we all feel.
Its only human nature to feel this way and it’s how you deal with your problems that define you. Let them fester too long and you’re fucked. I’ve learnt to just grab a hold of the little bastards and squeeze them out. I’m broken but easily fixed.