Learning To Love You More




Assignment #11
Photograph a scar and write about it.

Natalie Hammel
Herndon, Virginia USA



It's not an obvious scar, but it's in an obvious place. Some notice right away, and others never do. So I wanted you to see us how everyone else does. What did you notice first?
Before Harry Potter made lighting bolt forehead scars in vogue, I was a scar-free twelve-year-old girl. It was spring-the day the last episode of Seinfeld aired-and I was in Okahumpka, Florida training at International Tournament Skiing, a water ski school.
I ditched six weeks of sixth grade at Neil A. Armstrong Elementary School in Reston, Virginia to practice, practice, practice in the warm Florida weather.
There was a tournament on site in a few days, and I wanted to try and set a slalom record. But I'd been having trouble at 32 off in the slalom course. I couldn't get past one ball, and it's a six buoy course. I needed to run that pass to have a chance at breaking the record, and I was very frustrated.
So on this particular afternoon, after being booted off the computer, I walked over to the North lake and put on my slalom ski for a set with Jack, the owner and main coach of the school.
After a few warm-up passes, I came around one ball at 32 off and had a lot of slack, meaning a loose rope. I was determined to lean on the rope anyway. It came tight, and I flew out of my ski. My snug bindings released my feet when I hit the water at about 40 m.p.h. and the tip of my ski, which looks like an upside down U, collided with my face.
I was stunned. I floated in the water with my right eye closed until Jack swung the boat around to get me. My face only stung, but I was afraid if I opened my eyelid, my eyeball would fall out or something. Jack helped me into the back of the boat and sped me to the starting dock. I had the chance to look in the rearview mirror of the boat, which Jack used to watch the skiers and drive at the same time, but I didn't want to. I took the white towel he gave me and put it over my eye, and instead looked down at the blood dripping on my wet gray one-piece Speedo and life vest.
Jack fetched his wife, Lelani, and their big gray van. She drove me to the emergency room and we traded my bloodied bathing suit, life vest, back brace, and gloves for a green and white hospital gown. She insisted I have a plastic surgeon stitch me up. I left the hospital five hours later with 43 stitches.
That weekend, I didn't ski in the tournament, but instead walked around with a huge straw hat covering my bruised face. My dad super glued a cut out from a mouse pad on the tip of my ski and a week later, I began slaloming as usual.
The scar that you see in this picture isn't the whole scar. The tip of the ski also cut open the skin underneath my right eye, but because the skin is thinner, it healed better and the scar is barely visible.
I used to be self-conscious about my scar. I wanted it sanded down and done away with. But I don't care anymore. It's me. And I like me. Nobody else has my scar, though Harry Potter's it a close imitation, and perhaps, like his, mine has given me magical powers, too.