The Time I Got Sunburned

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments


Every year, my family used to take a trip to Sanibel Island, which is off the Western coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s a beautiful place with strangely warm waters and white sands. I have fond memories of our time in a rented condo, but one thing always went wrong every year. On the day of our arrival, I’d always get so sunburned that I’d be forced to be a hermit for the remainder of our vacation week.

Despite this happening every time, I never learned. Some sunscreen could have prevented the whole painful process, but I wanted to be tan more than anything. All of my friends would become a beautiful nut brown color in the summers, but I would remain as pale and pasty as ever. Somehow, I thought my translucent skin was simply the result of a lack of will. If I just sat in the sun LONG enough, I’d tan like everyone else, and would stop looking so sickly all year.

But this was not to be, and each time I’d become as red as a lobster. I’d lounge around the condo, feverish and ashamed. I’d refuse to go out to dinner with the family, and would instead just sit around in clothing slick with aloe. They’d bring me food back, but I wouldn’t be hungry.

One year, I burned so badly that my eyelids swelled shut, and I woke up in the middle of night thinking I had gone blind. It hurt to blink, and I had burned the bottoms of my feet as well, so it hurt to walk. My armpits were aflame, and so it hurt to lower my arms. I sat on the bed, arms akimbo, and cried salty tears, which of course just aggravated the burns even more. The next day, blisters formed all over my body, which meant I had managed to give myself 2nd degree burns after a few hours in the Florida sun.

I eventually learned to slather on sunscreen like my life depended on it, though I worry about what damage I’ve already caused. I’ve heard that serious sunburns earlier in life can raise your risk for skin cancer as an adult. Nowadays, I notice that I burn after only 15 minutes or so in the sun, and I always sit under a huge umbrella and hat if I go to the beach.

I know now that my paleness is here to stay, but I hope it’s not too late.

  1. February 22, 2012 at 10:46 am


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