It’s never as bad as I think it is, until I take another look in the mirror. My stomach transforms into a pretzel as the realization “I can always get worse” really begins to sink in. The old scars are so faint now that if I avoid bright lights nobody could even see them. I still make an effort to wear long sleeves at family gatherings, but if I slip up it wouldn’t result in the immediate recognition of my bullshit habits. But those are only the old scars. Those date back 15 years. They have a long history, but I don’t remember any of it. See, I have the scars, even if they are barely visible, I still have them. Yet I don’t have any of the feelings that allowed me to kick and scratch my way into a lifetime of swimming with my shirt on. I can’t recall a single moment, just a general sense of wanting a way out. And I think that might be what I hate the most. Of all the memorabilia I have accumulated over the years, it’s my scars that remain. I won baseball tournaments, performed in spelling bees, got some of my first poems published when I was 10. I bowled a game over 200, managed to get an Eagle in the District Golf Tournament, and even found the courage to say “I love you” to my highschool girlfriend, and I meant it… I had all of that happen…or at least I think I did… After all this time I have nothing left from those memories but the memories themselves, and when they play in my head, I feel like I’m watching somebody else’s life. I can see it all, in fantastic detail, but I can’t relate to anything I’m seeing. I can’t connect that person I see to the person I am. The only thing I can connect from the past with today are the scars. I can draw a line from each one in order, using how faded they appear to judge how old they are. That map is extensive, traveling the distance from my left ankle up through my right shoulder, ending in a faint crescent on the front of my neck. And I am still adding more lines, treating my skin like a highway, finding the spots where the lines have worn thin and taking the time to add a fresh layer of paint. But this road can’t go on forever. At some point repainting the lines won’t be enough, and the road will be slated for construction. Everything will have to be stripped away, so fresh pavement can be laid, to provide a better path for the future. And I’m certain it’s my time. My road is at its end, and I need to stop redrawing lines and just rip the whole fucking thing to shreds.