I was fresh at university, nineteen years old, when I had to get a surgery. It’s a weird surgery my mom is convinced is for those who hang out on their computers too long, called a Ganglionectomy. Basically they removed a cyst from my wrist that was making my fingers move on their own in a painful kind of way. Anyhow, not the point.

So I had this surgery, and then, everything sucked.

At the same time of this surgery, I was dating this guy I’d say was my first real boyfriend. He was obviously handsome, and hilarious. But I had this surgery and after puking up all the anesthetic, I got a call from him on my navy blue Nokia cell phone.

“I can’t see you anymore. You’re marriage material and I can’t do that right now,” he said.

I cried on the hide-a-bed quietly. I think I was still a little high on Percocets, but I was devastated. Not necessarily that we were done, but that I was marriage material? I didn’t want to be marriage material. I wanted to be whatever his type of material was. I wanted to be nineteen, in university, and no where near any kind of ‘material.’

I’ve never forgotten that conversation, or the way that stupid anesthetic made me feel. A couple days later, I had to go in for a follow up so the surgeon could take out the stitches. I was nauseous from being told I was marriage material, and not his kind of material, but the sweet, shaky old surgeon came in and took off the half-cast. He asked how I was, and I didn’t want to answer. I knew I was a hot-non-marriage-material-mess who would bawl on the spot. I looked at him and smiled, “I’m not good with this stuff.”

He assumed I meant the whole stitch-removal and dried blood mess that was sitting grossly on my wrist. I am awful with that bloody stuff, but more so, I meant men.

Well, I don’t remember what happened after looking at my wrist, except I was now laying down on the table with a small cup of orange juice sitting on the table beside me.

A nurse smiled, telling me that my wrist was covered, as though I’d faint or something if I could see it. She said once I felt okay, I could get up and go outside for some fresh air. “It’ll help you feel better,” she said.

I wasn’t really okay. I could have puked at any given moment, but I got up, went down a stinky elevator and let my body sink over the railing outside the doctor’s office.

I unwrapped whatever material was covering my wrist, and I looked at the fresh wound, healing well enough. The fresh air stung for a moment, and then everything was okay.

I never really ended up being marriage material, and every time I see the scar on my wrist I hear my first real boyfriend’s voice saying I was marriage material and I laugh. Out loud. But then again, I don’t think I’ve become any of the labels wrapped around me, and I think that’s why I can look at life and laugh.

Because sometimes we have to go through stuff that sucks and people have to put material on us to stop us from puking or feeling bad or whatever, but then we find some fresh air. And that’s when we’ve got to unwrap it all, let it sting. The moment will pass, and so will all those labels.

I was just nineteen, and honestly, that’s all I really wanted to be.