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The beauty in burnt bridges.

Posted in Life & Love

11891126_904063909673350_6066442384430992713_nI burned my left hand this weekend, on the knuckle of my middle finger. The skin scorched away in a split second – I could see right through to the cartilage underneath. Not immediately painful, I guess there aren’t many nerves there – but still it shocked me a little. Burns take a long time to mend with me: blistering, cracking and weeping for a good month or more. But eventually the skin draws back together and one day I realise the lesion has healed over. 

This burn made me emotional. I realised that because that knuckle protrudes out so far, it had protected the other three from touching the red-hot grill. A weird, small mercy that I’d never considered. My skin is so paper-thin it would have been a nasty singe. My little design fault had become a defensive strength.

I was sitting in a warm bath when the first sting registered. The bath was fragranced by rose-infused salt. There was an amber candle burning. Fresh cotton pjs were waiting for me on my bed. My dog was snoozing, head on pillow. Muttering at a dream. My iPad was full of design magazines. The next day was a holiday. The windows were open and the moon was visible. I started to hum a song I haven’t thought of in a while, and suddenly I understood something that had happened a long time ago. I realised that everything I had ever done. Every word I have ever uttered and every emotion that had been felt or stifled had brought me to that scented bath in this bright house at that clear moment. All the successes, failures and fuck-ups had shaped the instant I lent forward and burned my hand. Everything made sense. I saw that this burn, all the burns, eventually heal. That they have put me exactly where I should be.

11146655_855072297912823_3027388423475542049_nI am going to be doing a lot of travelling in the next few months. In SA and beyond – and I have been secretly resisting it. Going along with the planning, pulling arrangements together, making lists of things to do – but at the back of my mind thinking: I would rather stay home. I like to tell people it’s because I have done it all before. But in truth it’s because I don’t want to lose what I have now. Because what I have now is the happiest I have ever been. Because I am afraid that if I do leave, it will all change and go away. And I dread that.

But at some point that night, the plates shifted and settled. My knuckle burn had cauterised the worriment, the song had provided the narrative. It’s a decade since I left NYC, a decade since I feel I failed. A decade since I started again. A decade in which I have been and seen and done and grown and grown-up. All of it informed by the lessons I learned. As Don Henley put it: “Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge”.

I feel completely like me again. So New York, this is My Thanksgiving: and I can’t wait to see you again.

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5 Comments

  1. Whoa, that was a powerful post with analogies galore! Well done. Enjoy your newfound settledness with best wishes for an enjoyable trip. 🙂

    September 17, 2015
    |Reply
  2. silvia
    silvia

    Scars and wrinkles draw a new map of our bodies. As Anna Magnani would say be proud of them. But you know that. All you need is to be back in NYC with new eyes and your best friend at hand

    September 9, 2015
    |Reply
  3. Elma
    Elma

    Such a special post,Sue. Stay happy.

    September 8, 2015
    |Reply
  4. I loved this post! I never thought of getting burned as a beneficial thing. If it caused things to surface and come together, then rejoice in the understanding. When I review my life, I find successes, failures, regrets, happiness, great sadness and I realize without them, I would not be me. It sounds to me like your bath and the setting were the catalyst.

    September 8, 2015
    |Reply

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