Praxis (photo by Demetruis Gonzalez) wrote me a beautiful note about her initially-not-intended-to-be DIY circle brand, explaining how it came to be self-done,
I had wanted a simple circle brand (or a few circles) for quite a while. I was too scared to brand myself and was planning on going to see John Joyce who I respect immensely. However, Syracuse was a good few hours from where I was going to school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After I graduated from college I was staying in Boston for a few weeks preparing to go to Mexico for a year on a fellowship. I was staying with a very close friend Kirsten (iam:squiggles). She and I had met four years before through iam and shared a lot over the years. As the day of my imminent departure from Boston — the place I had spent the past four years and the home of the people I loved most in the world — approached, the thought of not seeing Kirsten again for at least a year was starting to weigh upon me. Over the years Kirsten had become like a sister to me, a kindred spirit. We shared a lot of experiences and memories but it seemed like we hadn’t shared enough, that we didn’t have enough time. Kirsten is the type of person who is always up for anything, who has an open mind and wants to experience and learn from life. With her I could always do anything, be myself, and not worry about her judging me. The prospect of not having someone like that in my life made me feel sick.
One day the worry became too much… I wanted to do something “crazy”, something I couldn’t do with someone else, something I couldn’t do on my own. I thought for a while and finally my mind settled on the circle brand and mentioned to Kirsten that I wanted one. Without prompting she immediately said, “I have a plain ring you could use.” She went to her room and came back with a silver ring in her hand. It was the perfect size. I told her I was scared to do it and she said she would to it to herself first to see what way of heating the ring worked best and so I wouldn’t be so nervous. She’s like that, always thinking about other people. So she disinfected the ring and put it in boiling water until it was hot and with a pair of tweezers pressed it to the skin on her thigh. It left a blister, but we decided that if I wanted a real scar, I’d have to heat it in fire. I held the ring in the fire of the gas stove until it was hot and then pressed it to my skin. Kirsten held my hand as my skin sizzled off, and as I reheated the ring and rebranded myself a few more times to make an even circle.
She still has the faint mark of a circle on her knee (and she didn’t even want a brand to start out with!) and I have my circle brand, a reminder of her and my friendship and everything we shared. Now, on my own in Mexico, when I see my brand I am reminded of everything Kirsten and I have shared and of our friendship, which continues to grow though we are no longer in the same city.