I would look in the mirror and see a slew of different things. Curls that run rampant, tickling the underside of my tanned chin. The ends are blonde, a spur-of-the-moment choice made to kill the lower part of my hair follicles. It was a look I’d done often in high school, and one I wanted to pick up again in adulthood. Many praised the color, pointing and smiling, some I could see the humor or judgement that danced behind their eyes; humor and judgement I chose to ignore because in my own dark browns, the color of a rich chocolate that morphed to caramel in the light, I looked at the short style in appreciation and awe.
Those eyes that glimmer with hope, adventure, a thirst for knowledge, look at the world full of endless possibilities and challenges to overcome. The eyes are the window to the soul, a quote known around the world, no matter the language or culture, and in my eyes my soul; the soul of a writer, an adventurer, a girl still learning much of the ways of life, reflected at me, through the thin lenses the stood between them and the world; a world that would, otherwise, be blurry and distorted, more difficult to handle than what it already is.
The curls, when they would choose to cooperate during the day, accentuated high cheekbones and gigantic eyes. My face looked smaller, though chubbier, as if I still hadn’t lost all the baby fat around my chin. That was an annoyance I often tried to ignore. My nose was regular sized, though a bit bumpy on top. It would twitch at times, picking up the scents that brought me back to memories long since past of childhood, adolescents, and recent times. People say that when one sense is damaged the others compensate; I don’t know if I believe that to be true. My eyes are bad, my hearing isn’t the best, not destroyed, but not any better off due to one too many songs listened to through headphones at full volume. I don’t have a spectacular sense of taste, and my sense of smell is no better or worse than the next person, but I suppose it picks up the subtilties and joys of the candle lit in the dining room, chosen for specific seasons; and it picks up the fresh ground coffee beans that filter through the house every morning.
More than once in my life I was told that most of my looks were akin to my father, except the eyes for those I was blessed from my mother. For a while, this upset me. What girl wants to routinely hear that she looks like her dad? Muscular and large, with a rugged face. I hated it, looking in the mirror, but the years and life experiences grew on me. It wasn’t so much looking in the mirror and seeing a more masculine side as it was looking into the mirror and appreciating the reflection I saw. I grew into my body, saw what it could be through hard work and dedication as a fondness for kickboxing and Pilates emerged. The awkward build of an introverted high school student diminished as embers of confidence sparked to life within my being.
My ears are average, often hidden behind the hair, but when they aren’t, and if one looks closely enough, they can surely see the differences in the two. One sticks out a little more than the other, scar tissue marring it, telling the story of a girl, a summer, and a German Shepherd that got a little too vicious during playtime. When the topic is mentioned in conversation, which it rarely is, but on those off chances it comes up, people will ask if it’s hard to remember, and I tell them yes, but not in the sense that they might think. Yes, it’s hard to remember because this caused the dog to be put down. This was the cause of losing the best friend I had for months before that. He wasn’t old, a year and a half at that; still a baby in my eyes. A puppy; my puppy. Yes, it’s hard to remember, because things could have been different. Maybe if they had been I would not be here today; I certainly know I would not be typing this to you, who reads this now, reliving these small moments in my life that have changed the way I view the world; however, if we go by this, then there are many instances within my life where, through looking at my reflection, at myself, that things could have been different, that I could have changed them in which I may not be where I am now, or experienced any of the things I have to this point. Take my voice, for instance. A simple feature of myself that one can’t really see in a reflection, but one can imagine it; look beneath the skin, the muscle tissue, see the vocal cords that pull and stretch and vibrate with every intonation, with every spoken word or, in my case, with every rarely spoken word, for I was not an outspoken child growing up.
Writing on this, I was actually much of an introvert growing up, and I had no problem with this fact. I was happy to have my few close friends and the plethora of books that surrounded me. A pencil and a piece of paper often sufficed as well, because who needs a verbal word when a hundred written ones can convey so much more emotion, so much more depth than any spoken one can? Thinking back on this part of my life, I probably would have been satisfied with just this if there hadn’t come a time when I lost a relationship due to my inability to communicate properly with others. The words hurt, to read them no less; isn’t that ironic? To utilize the very thing I took so much comfort in, only to read the words that made me change so? I don’t believe it changed me for the worse, though, because I’m quite happy with forcing myself to come out of the shell I took solace in, surrounded by books and scraps of written on paper. I grew, I thrived in the outside world, and I see myself as better off for it, because, beyond that cramped shell, that safe haven, there was a world of endless conversations that stimulate the brain. There are days where I actively seek certain types of dialogue with others, the ones that push me to think beyond the confines of my mind. They’re the ones I want to last, to turn into hours and hours of talking, and on these days I’ll turn to my grandfather, a man who I hold no physical resemblance to, but every intellectual bit of resemblance I own is entirely a reflection of his own. I believe this to be my favorite feature of my reflection.
My grandfather is a man of many, many words, and endless opinions about the world in which he resides. I can always rely on him for the insightful input into the going ons of the world. It’s a habit of his to message me at least once a day; and if I’m lucky, he’ll even give my phone a ring. On those days we’ll talk for hours on end about the simplest of things to the complexities of philosophy or religions. Always, there will be an anecdote in these calls, oftentimes more than one, and these are the things I live by. Better safe than sorry. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Do you need it, or do you want it? I’m sure we’ve all heard them at least once in the span of time we’ve been alive. These little nuggets of information, I’ve discovered, are some of my most precious treasures. They’ve shaped me into the person I am today, the reflection that I see in the mirror.
I struggle to find the conversations that intrigue me as much as these do, at least in the same mental capacity. While it’s not an easy feat, I find that I can often make them in the writings I create, through the characters born from the tapping of the keyboard or the scratching of pen on paper when I’m feeling more nostalgic and in need of a reset. It’s strange how the smooth feel of the paper and the solid grip on a pen can spur the imagination and creativity in such a way that a computer and keyboard never could. There would be those times where I’d lift my hand and there would be ink marks smeared on tanned skin from the spots where the pen didn’t dry fast enough. Paper after lined paper would stack up to my right, and I’d look at it after inspiration dies away, only to realize that I’d have to type everything from the beginning. Excitement would mingle with exhaustion, and back through the plot, character creation, and challenges I go; all for a storyline that would end up shoved under the rug in the end.