By Sharon Nesbit-Davis
My mother didn’t change the furniture in her house. Once placed it stayed until they moved out over forty years later. So when I visited with my children my bedroom was exactly as it was and I lifted them to look into my old mirror. They giggled at the distortion. I remembered that was the best part about it.
The wavy mirror had been my grandmother’s. It watched me grow-up. We spent hours together. A few times I stared until I had an out of body experience, but mostly I imagined. I imagined putting on makeup for a date. Getting dressed for my wedding and taking one last look at the little girl about to become a woman. I perfected acceptance speeches. I am prepared to win an Oscar for best actress and best director of the best picture, the Nobel Peace Prize for eliminating war, and reluctantly a Presidential nomination. “I am both stunned and honored you want me to be your next President.” I also mastered the Miss America wave.
None of those imagined things came true. By the time I was old enough to date I boycotted makeup. That had to do with animal testing and not knowing how to put it on without looking like my mother. By the time I married, I’m pretty sure I was already a woman. We had a hippy-style wedding in a park and I took a quick look in our VW Bug’s rear-view mirror. Very quick because we were over an hour late. My dream of being in the movies took another route. Mimes rarely get respect and never win Oscars. Eliminating war was more complicated than I thought. Silly me. I didn’t realize it was such a big money maker. And no one should ever draft me to be President. For a few years I was Board President of a progressive private school. At my first meeting I asked everyone to get up and dance to “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”. I discovered it’s hard to make people follow the leader. As for the princess wave it was never needed, but has been used. I’m not going to describe the circumstances.
If I had the skills I’d paint a picture and title it “Reflections on a Mirror”. There would be the little girl me, looking at the grown me, holding my baby. The little girl me would smile with recognition as if she had a premonition this was going to be her life. She didn’t. She would have thought it boring to be married with children. She didn’t know what a mime was. She didn’t know that love for seasonal changes and a man would make her forget Hollywood dreams.
I don’t look in mirrors much now. The wavy one is packed in a box among possessions of my mother kept with no need or place for them. Mirrors are used functionally to remove spinach from teeth and snot from my nose and coat eyelashes with mascara. I buy the kind that states no animals suffered and hope it’s true.
If I take a moment and look, I don’t see me. This reflection doesn’t show what I’ve seen and done and think. It doesn’t show what I find hilarious and sad or that I can feel that way about the same thing simultaneously. It doesn’t show the grief of children lost and parents buried and cancer ridden friends or the splendid births of grandchildren or bits of memorized poems awakened by the site of an old woman’s smile or a little girl’s grave.
I wonder if others know what they see isn’t me. If they don’t I won’t be insulted. I probably don’t see them either.
Words © by Sharon Nesbit-Davis
Version of this was published on “Open Salon”