Remembering Leiden

I’ve often heard the phrase, “Scars are like tattoos, but they have better stories.” Perhaps that’s true for some, but the stories accompanying the two scars on my knee don’t represent good stories. They represent a rather painful time in my life when I discovered I wasn’t invincible and that the things I love can always be taken away from me. It wasn’t all bad, though. I was eventually forced to realize that I was capable of doing things other than playing soccer. Those injuries, however traumatic and painful they may have been, helped me discover a different side of myself. If that hadn’t happened, I probably wouldn’t be here in Leiden today.

Leiden is an experience that has changed me in ways I never could have imagined. Again, I discovered that I’m capable of so much more than I have ever realized. My time here has been enlightening, beautiful, and full of adventure. It’s something I never want to forget. Leiden deserves a scar – not a scar with a great story behind it, but a scar with an incredible journey behind it.

Leiden’s coat of arms features two keys crossing over each other. Because of this, Leiden is often referred to as the “Sleutelstad” or “Key City.” The keys can be found everywhere – on churches, buses, tourist centers, fences, even on little shiny coins built into the cobblestone. The keys are Leiden’s symbol, which is why I chose them to be my new “scar.”

I realize getting a tattoo is a big decision, and there’s a great possibility that people reading this find tattoos gaudy, gross, inappropriate, etc. You may think this is considered harming my body in some way. I guess in a way, that’s true. However, the scars I already had were chosen for me. I didn’t get to decide where they went, what they meant, or why I had them. I also had a reaction to the stitches the surgeon used, so the scars turned out to be significantly uglier than he’d planned, but that’s a whole different story. The point is, this was my decision. Instead of looking at my knee and thinking, “Ugh. I hate those things,” I can look down at my ankle, smile, and think, “Leiden.”

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