I am taking my very first creative writing class this semester in school. I’m very excited about it, and I am hoping to learn quite a lot about my personal writing style – both to expand and improve it. We are going to be having mini, in-class, writing exercises, and when I like the results, I will be sharing them here. This was the first one. I hope you enjoy!
In that short, awkward space of pre-teenagehood, young American girls have their first rite of passage: learning to shave their legs. Sometimes, I imagine, in beautiful, content, suburban households, moms take their lovely daughters into their pristine bathrooms and show them their hard-earned, good technique and safe shaving practices. Or perhaps, this honor is passed on to an older sister – that wise and gorgeous entity, that awe-inspiring person who does everything first. It’s a warm event, and young girls feel content, embraced in the warm cocoon of shared womanhood.
I wasn’t so lucky. First, my mom, a real, certified hippie, didn’t really want me shaving my legs so early in life. In fact, much to my chagrin, she often commented that if her leg hair had been as well dispersed and generous as mine (her legs being enviously bare of almost all things hairy), she would never shave at all. Second, my sisters, 5 and 10 years older than me, weren’t interested in mentoring a snot-nosed, hairy pre-teen. Finally, I wasn’t in American Dream suburbia. Instead, I was stuck in nowhereland ruralville, with no television, no magazines, and no money. I learned on my own.
I did an okay job for the most part, the first couple of times coming away with just a few nicks and scrapes, like an old man’s chin. I was a clumsy tomboy. The real tragedy happened a few weeks into shaving. Excited to get out of the tub and play soccer, I hadn’t yet mastered the art of shaving while standing, I shaved faster than usual. With the water showering down on me, I wielded the razor like some sort of crazy samurai and shaved off all the skin on my ankle bone. All of it. Clean gone. With the water now running red, swirling down the drain in a whirlpool of blood, soap, and hot water, I tried to calm myself, forcing my hands to shave my other leg.
By the time I got to my other ankle, my hands were shaking. Eyes wide with terror, I fixated on the lovely, thin skin that covers the fibula, snaking up from the ankle, and shaved it off. Like fate, it couldn’t be avoided, and even as I moved I knew it had to happen – balance was restored in the universe. Now, instead of perfect ankle bones, I have lovely twin scars, ¼ inch width and 2 inches long. Baptized in blood and pain, it was a real rite of passage.