Since turning 40 I have felt a subtle shift in accepting who I am as a person. Owning my flaws, showing my scars, and embracing beauty often categorized as “untraditional.” I am learning to no longer apologize for existing and trumpeting my own strengths. Self-deprecation for the sake of others or willowing to allow others the hero role in my life is no longer an option. The scar on my left arm is a memento of both my strength and a reminder I am the heroine in my story. The summer of ’88 my older brother and I decided to become amateur pyro-techs. We spent many merry days firing off bottle rockets at each other and then decided – well, he decided - to go on to making pipe bombs. In the days before school bombings and terrorist attacks, this was just something impetuous children did with their Wacky Wizard Chemistry Kits. Somehow my brother and I, working as his little assistant, managed to build what he would later refer to as the “minus A-Bomb” and he blew up our backyard fort - and me. I remember distinctly knowing I was aflame, smelling my burning hair and flesh and my brother throwing me on the ground, with the screamed commands of “Stop, drop and roll.” I don't remember anything until I was in the hospital being examined for third-degree burns.
Strangely, while the event did happen - my scar stands as evidence I was present for everything - the sequence I remember - and would swear to - is not correct. Years later my brother would correct my re-telling and related the container we built the bomb in struck him in the head knocking him unconscious almost simultaneous to the initial explosion. The voice I heard screaming instructions was most likely my own as I attempted to gain control of the situation. According to both he and my mother, I ran myself a bath of cold water made colder with ice cubes, revived my brother, and told him to get help while I submerged my charred arm in the tub. My mother and brother’s recollection makes me seem so heroic yet for decades I favored the story that makes my brother the hero. Why? I liked the idea of being saved, rescued from uncertain danger by my loving brother and it allows him to escape from total blame. Putting the event down in word is an exorcising of little girl demons. It doesn’t diminish the love and admiration I have for my older brother. It does, however, claim my power. I am no fair Juliet, no maiden in need of rescuing….I am my own hero.