over-exposed and blurry. that’s how i prefer photographs of me these days.
this morning i opened facebook and there was one of those “you have a memory” pictures. it was from nine years ago when my girl graduated from college and she and i and one of my nieces were all in a pub gathered closely together. adding to my over-exposed and soft-focus-photo-capture-desires, this memory looked different – younger – than when i looked in the mirror shortly thereafter. hmm. the marks of time.
my sweet momma would look in the mirror and, in a singsong whiny voice whine, “i look like an old woman!” she was 93. i would gently remind her both that she was a woman of age and she was amazingly beautiful wearing that age. but as i look into the mirror each day, i’m wondering if she was as dismissive of my words as i am dismissive of david’s “you’re beautiful” compliments. we are so hard on ourselves. our grooves, impressions like the ones in the carpet at the old family home, are earned from the long haul, from all that we have encountered, from the sun in day and dreams at night.
the wear and tear – or lack thereof – on each of us belies the courage and tenacity beneath the surface. we keep on keeping on, adding a wrinkle here or a grey hair there. i thought i was getting used to the appearance of tiny evidences of middle-aging until one famous morning. it all had gone basically unnoticed until that one day when i looked in the mirror and WHAMMO! my dad’s jowls had appeared. what?!? i stared at myself. my dad’s jowls stared back. it was all i could see. what on earth had happened overnight??
i ran to the next room to get a photograph of my sweet poppo and, sure enough, there they were. a perfect match. i pulled up a recent photo of my dad’s sister, his only surviving sibling, and voila! there they were. i am in a perfect-harmony-trio of jowls. i looked for a picture of my sister. though i was hoping to, i didn’t really see any jowls. what’s up with that, dna? seems slightly unfair to me. ahh, indents and jowls. the marks of time.
i look sideways to the window as i write this. below the sill are a variety of lines in the wall, many of them. on summer nights, when the window was wide open and you could feel the breeze blowing and the sweet smell of mown grass drifted in, this was the window that babycat jumped into to sleep. his lumbering body stretched out on the sill, he would lay there throughout the night. in the morning, he would put his paw down in front of his body and drag it along the wall to carefully get down out of the window. the scratched lines remain. indented in the wall, i am not eager to remove them in these times of dearly missing our beloved cat.
one day, like the vacuum that will remove the ridged lines in the carpet in david’s parents’ living room, a little sanding and paint will remove these scratched lines. but their import won’t go away. the sofa that sat in the living room may no longer be there, but the times spent there will always be a part of that space. the scratches on the wall may be fixed, but the cat that graced our lives will always be a part of this space.
the jowls that are now on my face will remain, however, and i suspect become more pronounced, just like the wrinkles and the grey hairs. all that i have been – including the times when i didn’t care about over-exposure and blurred photos – will remain. all that i have experienced, just like you, makes its mark. and we will be lucky if we someday glance in a mirror at 93 and whine-like-we’re-45, “i look like an old woman!”
jowls or not.