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It was the only cloudy afternoon that we had encountered on our spring break trip, and my mother and I had just arrived back at our hotel room after a mid-day lunch and shopping session. Sarasota isn’t normally cloudy, so we knew that this was likely our only time to rest before the sun reemerged the next day. While my mom sent emails in her bed, I decided I would take a shower.  As I turned the gold-plated shower handle to the hottest setting, I looked down at my right foot, propped up on the bath tub’s edge, noticing the rough patch on my ring toe. It had been there for a few months and I just thought it was an oddly shaped callus that had developed due to the commencement of lacrosse season. It didn’t hurt, so I ignored it, thinking I would just get it shaven off with a pummel stone at my next pedicure appointment. Curious, I sent a close-up, graphic picture of them to my lacrosse snapchat group and Josie Kennedy quickly responded that it was, to my surprise and dismay, a wart of some kind. After extensive research on my then steam-clouded computer screen, I learned that they were mosaic plantar warts, meaning that there were multiple warts, all in a little cluster. I was disgusted with my own foot. Yes, I know people who have gotten warts before, but I never thought that kind of tragedy would come upon me. But, here we were in the marble-floored bathroom of the Ritz Carlton, me and my cluster of warts. My first thought was, “Wow, I’m going to cut my foot off. This is not an OK embarrassment for me to have. My entire toe, foot and ankle need to be amputated.” Irrational as it may seem, I rushed into the main portion of our hotel room, smelling of sunscreen and perfume, and announced my surgical plans to my mother, who was quite unimpressed.

“Holly, stop overreacting, it’s probably nothing.” She said to me with her glasses perched on her nose and her IPad keyboard in her lap. She always seems to say this when I have some sort of ailment, and she is usually right, but I knew that this was not one of those insignificant sufferings I could just ignore. I went back into the bathroom feeling defeated and began a frantic photoshoot, sending copious amounts of flash-on, close-up shots to my friends, who obviously did not want to see my deformity. I also texted a friend of mine, whose mother is a dermatologist, and asked what I could do about my crisis. Because my friend is not a dermatologist, she couldn’t provide me with the information that I needed and told me to make an appointment with her mom. I tend to overshare, and this was one of those instances.

After sitting with and examining them for about five minutes, I decided to do what I do best: name the inanimate object. Names give personality, and I find myself naming everything from my car (her name is Jojo), to blankets, to pieces of clothing. I wanted to make my warts as fashionable as possible and thought that personifying them might lessen my resentment towards my little predicaments. What was a name that I could give them that was fashionable and attractive, but also still a little bit warty? I sat for a while, rotating my foot, observing every angle and trying to think of a name that would capture the glory and beauty that was my cluster of warts. The first name that popped into my head was Stephanie. The name rang with elegance, but my dad’s name is Stephen and he is a little bit warty, so it just felt right. It would be hard to name and remember each wart in the cluster, as there are about 8 or nine warts in total on my right ring toe, so I concluded that they would all be named Stephanie and that the entire cluster would be called, “The Stephanies.”

They might be gross and my friends might wince away when I show them my foot, but the personification that I have imposed onto my warts has changed the way that I see them. The Stephanies are a friend, no longer an enemy, and although our time together is drawing to a close, I have accepted that, at least for a little while longer, she is a part of me and goes with me wherever I go. Since March, The Stephanies and I have been on many journeys. We have been to four states, including Florida, Ohio, New York and Connecticut, made it through more than half of a lacrosse season through various bandaging techniques, and have worn flip flops and Birkenstocks, both of us fully exposed, without a care in the world. I will admit, I have attempted to freeze them off twice with a CVS Brand Wart Freezing Kit and a dermatologist appointment is on my calendar, but I have come to enjoy their company.

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