Scars don't have to come from something traumatic

I LIKE my body. It does the job. I'd like to brag to you about a few bits of my skin that not only do the job, but have gone above and beyond the call of duty. These are my most prominent scars.

I ran into a table corner as a little kid, and now hair won't grow in that spot. Unless I carefully brush my left eyebrow to conceal the scar (as my mom used to), the gap is obvious.

My husband, Leonard, says that the gap makes the hair above the scar look like a dolphin leaping out of the ocean (the ocean being my main brow).

The effect gives me two main eyebrows and a bonus minibrow. Since Leonard has a tendency to the unibrow, maybe there's some Law of Conservation of Eyebrows going on here, ensuring that the average remains two eyebrows per person.

Less prominent but noticeable is a blue pinpoint on the pad of my left index finger. It lies partially visible under the skin, like the blue of a blood vessel or a faded tattoo. One day in sophomore trigonometry, I retracted my mechanical pencil and pushed the graphite back into its tube — but a bit of the graphite stuck in my finger, and somehow I didn't pull it all out. So now, every time I use a mechanical pencil or look at my fingertips, I think of the ways Mr. Medeiros nearly crushed my love of math.

Hey math teachers: Ridiculing students' questions doesn't help them learn. I'm sorer on that point than I am about the scar.

Anyone who looks at my ears can see that they were pierced, and that I haven't worn earrings for a long time. My parents pierced my ears before I was old enough to remember, and I wore the same gold loops for 16 years. On very special occasions, sure, my mom wriggled fancy rings or studs into those holes, or I did if I was in a don't-touch-me teenager phase.

Those of you who have never had piercings can't know how weird and intimate it feels to finesse little bits of metal into those tiny skin-holes.

Combine the hard-to-see maneuvering of flossing, braiding, or putting on a belt with the more private, penetrative body acts.

I left home for college, cut my hair, and took off my earrings once and for all. But my mom asked me to wear some jewelry in memory of home and God, so I did: a little Ganesha idol on a chain around my neck, and a small ring. My finger grew accustomed to the ring, as fingers do.

Today, just a few months after getting married, I marvel that my ring finger has already adjusted to my wedding ring. I peek at the skin underneath and find it shiny and pale, the flesh narrowing to accommodate the ring. A scar, of sorts.

My earring holes have closed up; the scars remain, but I'd have to repierce my ears to wear earrings again. To me, earrings fall in the same category as makeup, heels and long hair: far more trouble than they're worth. They're uncomfortable, high-maintenance meaningless decoration, or at least meaningless to me.

The ring is different.

Leonard is still getting used to wearing his wedding ring, since he never wore a ring before. He fidgets with it every once in a while, removing and replacing it. He wants to make sure it doesn't get stuck, he says.

I think he wants to reassure himself that it doesn't have to be a permanent part of his body, that it's more like clothing and less like a scar. I stay out late to see comedy alone on Saturday nights, and Leonard fiddles with his wedding ring. Sometimes his ring finger needs alone time, that's all.

The skin underneath Leonard's ring is redder and squishier than the rest of his finger. Other husbands tell me that one does get used to the ring and the changes it causes. We're still getting used to the commitment the rings symbolize, and allowing that commitment to change us.

My parents, a table and a pencil gave me three scars I don't mind, and my husband and I have mildly changed a bit of each other's skin. Sometimes I imagine an alien energy beam rejuvenating me, all my little defects disappearing, a tiny piece of graphite flying away from my left hand, my glasses falling from my nose. But I'd want to keep that spot on my left ring finger, shiny and narrow and pale.

Sumana Harihareswara writes for Bay Area Living each week. You can write to her at