thing-makerFor three years I have been growing something on my back.

Generally growing has sort of positive associations, like gardens, and audience, and account balance. When it changes from growth to growths, though, it becomes quite less appealing.

It started out like a little bump, and its position just in from my shoulder blade makes it difficult for me to see so I ignored it, even though once or twice it caught on my sweater.

That first summer we were having a picnic on the beach with great local food, including blueberries. I was lying on my stomach, thinking how rarely I ever enjoy the sunshine, but this particular day had the right amount of breeze and I was properly screened so I was digging my toes in the sand and really quite relaxed. The kids were old enough to not IMMEDIATELY drown, and we were there with another family so there were three adult eyes. Well six really. Six adult eyes on the kids and I could just check out.

So after just a minute or so there was a sand spray and the kid who I had not birthed reached out and said ‘Hey Anna, you have a blueberry on your back.”

At first I was confused, then as I started to explain that it was attached to me he began to try to pick it off. That didn’t go well for anyone. He shrieked. I stifled my shriek. I spent the next 15 minutes covering up and waiting on hold with the dermatologists office.

When I went in for the appointment they were treating me with the seriousness reserved for people who have had bits of themselves cut out and analyzed. We had what seemed to me like an absurd 5 minute conversation about the location of my last surgery and the location of this new growth while I sat on the exam table fully clothed. I went from feeling 100% certain that this growth had nothing at all to do with what they had removed, to like, 98% certain and it was as if they were trying to get me to submit. OK, OK I am going to be an interesting case. I kept asking why they didn’t just look, because I still have a scar the size of a wooly caterpillar from the last go round, but they seemed to want to “more talk about it” as my 18 month old Leo would say.

When I was finally begowned and ungowned they were disappointed. Not only was this new growth NOT on the location of the last questionable area (which they could see because of the clear scar from the last surgery) but this growth is, like, TOTALLY benign.

So my blueberry and I left the office.

The following summer it was no longer a blueberry, but truly more like a grape and it was freaking Steve out. He kept saying: “don’t you want to cut that thing off?” and I kept saying, its sort of like my sister that I never had. Like if I had eaten my twin in utero and now she was just popping out to say hi.

He stopped asking and just quietly unwound the hairs that had twisted themselves around my sisters neck.

Sure there was a time I tried to cover my sister up with a bandaid due to the cut of my dress that one time a year that I go out in fancy clothes and even the biggest bandaid couldn’t cover her up. But other than that she is just back on my back chilling, and I have been gifted and cursed with a really low level of vanity. Live and let live. So we have gone on about our things, my thing and I.

Everything changed last month. Steve, who has been studiously avoiding mention of and contact with the thing told me simply that I should get two mirrors together and check things out. I didn’t know that he was being literal. The grape has a blueberry. Its a small, local blueberry, but there it is. I’m not sure if it is like a head on a body, or asexual reproduction, or what, but it signals the end of our time together. Sororicide. Not just a fun cocktail anymore.

Any of you growing anything (or anyone) special these days?

If you want to read more about skin I recommend this wonderful essay “The private life of skin” by Hester Kaplan. David Foster Wallace , author of the weepingly funny “A supposedly fun thing I will never do again” chose Hester’s skin piece as one of his top ten essays ever written. Requires registration but you can read it for free.

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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

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