Former ‘bolters might recall that I once dangled a carrot called “my most disgusting story ever”. Sometimes I tease*, but baby, can I ever deliver.
The Year I Walked Around With a Piece of Cedar in My Foot
I was a shockingly messy child. I seem to have regressed lately, or at least that’s what my kitchen reports. This is unexpected after spending The L.A. Years as an anal-retentive neat freak but I’m rolling with it (I lost roommates over my cleanliness, God knows why, I was such a blast). People used words like “immaculate” and “Martha Stewart” and “mom” to describe me.
Anyway. One Saturday at the age of about 12, I was sequestered in my room on strict orders that I could not play until it was clean. Just my closet was taking all day. I sort of gave up and got lost in a book in the middle of toy hills in the closet, because, frankly, I’m a straight-A student and what have they done lately?
My heel felt funny – itchy – so I was picking at it absent-mindedly as I read. On a particularly good, strong itch I felt something…wet.
A little history: about a year earlier, I was running around the woods barefoot (I did this a lot) when a sharp piece of cedar suddenly bit into my heel. It lodged itself immediately into my soft flesh – it had already nearly disappeared by the time I kicked back my ankle to look. I tried to pluck it out, but my skin was already so inflamed and tender with the pain I couldn’t get at it. I hobbled back along the soft trail and spent the rest of the day reading in my room and playing with my wound to see how bad I could make it (armchair psychologists should be having loads of fun by this point).
My foot really hurt – burned – the whole weekend, but I didn’t say anything because I knew my mother would be way too excited to whip out her needle used for these incidents and, also, I was 11 and I didn’t really know what to do with a chunk of cedar in my foot. Clearly, the solution was to do nothing.
My heel ached for about a week and I came up with creative excuses for avoiding chores and P.E. After a while I just sort of forgot about my foot. It was like it never happened. Besides, you know how busy eleven-year-olds are. If that sliver wasn’t going to bother me I certainly wasn’t going to bother it. Every once in a while my dad and I would be playing baseball and I’d turn on my heel and feel a slight stabbing pain, but I figured this was something I could live with and soon enough these shooting darts of memory subsided too and all was well with my foot.
Which is why, a year later, nestled comfortably in my closet with my book, I was really confused as to why my heel would be wet. After wondering about this for a while I finally looked down, because hey, it’s not normal for a heel to be wet.
There was the piece of cedar, hanging out of my heel. Although it was now rotted and mushy and sort of pale. It was the grossest thing you’ve ever seen in your life. It sort of just fell out of my heel. There was this rather neat, clean hole left in my heel – surprisingly neat and clean. A gelatinous string of liquid slid out (OMG this is so gross! Are you still reading? What is wrong with you?). I wasn’t allowed out of my room yet, though, so I wiped it off – likely with a dirty sock – and just kept hanging out. Good times.
My heel was kinda hollow and hurt for a few days. It felt, oh, airy. I guess my foot had been healing all year inside out – the cedar must have been working its way back down once it figured out that nothing was going on in that joint. It totally freaked me out, I mean, I was horrified by my own foot. But it was also really cool.
I had a small calloused indent in my heel for months. The skin finally thinned and that was the end of the year of the cedar in my foot. I think I may have told some kids about the bark over the years (anything I can do to help the cause) but I never told my parents because Christ, they were already so much work to begin with.
* it’s genetic
P.S. Don’t read into this story too much. It’s a piece of wood.
P. P. S. Don’t read into that either.