Over the years, my visage has changed. Grown longer... wider. The hair whiter... coarser. The eyes wiser. Or perhaps more jaded. It is difficult to separate those two things some days. I have fallen and gotten up too many times to count, the scars on my knees hidden by the scabs of my latest debacle. The face that looks back from the glass is no longer quite as full of potential as it once was. The edges are worn off and what remains is tilted with a rueful smile. It was never, what I would call, handsome. But there are moments when the look is pleasing, usually following some triumph where all is right. At other times it is best not to look too carefully, because the lines and creases have begun to deepen and the imperfections are all too... visible. But the physical features matter less as the sand shifts. It is the eyes that matter. At what point did the eyes change? When they look back on me now, the knowledge of the miles they have seen makes it hard for them to be as convincing of the things that are around the next bend.
A pier glass is a large mirror... hung high on a wall often between two windows. Its silver extends and reflects the room upon itself, giving the illusion of large space. It hides nothing and as I stand there looking... it is not the preened self that reflects in the mirror of the bathroom. The one in which I stand up straighter, and lower my jawline, in a futile attempt at vanity. No... the pier glass shows me as I am, unaware of the need for vanity. Stooped and gray and weighted by the years and the worries. I catch the glimpse of this stranger and feel the shock of recognition... as if seeing a long lost mate, suddenly coming in to a focus of memories. They flood through me. The memories.
But the mirror hangs between windows... the windows are not for reflection, but to allow others to see in. All of us... everyone of us... wonders how the world views us. Wonders what they see... and what they miss. The scars are never as noticeable to others as they are to yourself. But I am struck by the dichotomy of these two views... self view... and the view of others. How harsh we are on ourselves. How we learn to focus on the cuts and bruises that we know so well, instead of the beauty that radiates. At a certain point the mirrors become useless. It only reflects the eyes that either lie... or tell too much truth. Neither is fair. Neither is accurate.
But the jaded eyes also know that those looking through the windows allow their views to be colored, skewed by the imperfections of the glass, which perhaps reflects themselves back a bit as they stare through to you. These views are colored by jealousy. Colored by hatred. Colored by bigotry. Colored by desire. Colored by envy. Colored by grief. Colored... it would seem... by their own eye that have walked their own path and thus have formed their own distorted view.
So who to trust? We read often of unconditional love. The skeptic in me wonders if the idea is simply fantasy. The romantic in me wonders if this is the real answer to the question of trust. Unconditional love sees all... the bruises... the scabs... the jaded eyes... and loves anyway without distortion. And what we wish for is that... someone in the pier glass, or someone in the window that can view us that way.
On Becoming My Grandmother
3 months ago