The first memory I have of deliberate risk-taking is this personal essay of my encounter with a grumpy neighbor and a fallen oak tree. It also highlights my enduring love of Springtime in Connecticut and adventures with friends. Enjoy. ox – Heather
I remember when I got this scar on my leg. Lilacs bloomed. Sun-warmed soil gave way to my footprints with each pounding step of my blue Keds. Angry jays haggled over boundary lines above. The drone of my father’s chainsaw heralded the freedom of Saturday morning; hacking up the fallen limbs from the violent storm that sent me scurrying from my bed in terror days earlier.
My best friend Allison shrieked with laughter as she dared me to chase her into enemy territory by running into the Borelli's yard. I briefly considered stopping in defeat; then inexplicably, I decided to ignore my mother’s warnings flashing in my mind.
My mouth tingled with the possibility catching her. My legs burned with the effort of acceleration to untested speed. Then my stomach lurched as I tripped over the unseen fallen tree limb. I soared briefly, then a sudden and violent stop to the laws of inertia jerked me down. I inhaled the loamy soil, and then tasted blood. I hoisted my head up from the ground but my leg was stuck; my dungarees ensnared in the splintered shards of the fallen oak. I was a fallen soldier in hostile territory; and then Mrs. Borelli is glaring at me from her kitchen window.
Wicked Witch of the West
I felt dumbstruck that my heart was still thumping in my chest even though I should have turned to stone looking up at her; who once chased me out of her yard with a broom. I struggled to free myself, and then, there was Allison, helping me rip my pants from the clutches of the oak. The kitchen door burst open, we scream and scramble and then side-by-side hit warp speed as we streak away from her hollering; our hair flying in the brisk wind made for kite flying; fertilizing the grass with my blood. My head aches with adrenaline. My heart sings with the sweetness of victory over self-imposed limitations. Then I see the jagged wooden splinter poking from my dungarees.
I remember when I got this scar on my leg. I want to smell the lilacs again. Sometimes I wish I could be as brave as my six year-old self; then all I have to do is glance down at the scar that still remains to remind me that I’m (still) that same girl.
I remember when I got this scar on my leg. The first time I decided to risk my life.
image credit: my best friend Allison took this of me, my dungarees, and my Keds on her first black and white camera; @ 1976.