I have taken for granted the reassurance that comes from a daily glance in the mirror. I have never been a person to spend time daydreaming, critiquing or vamping in front of a mirror. Rather, I practice an efficient use of a mirror. I brush my hair, I apply makeup in five minutes or less. I make sure my slip is not showing or some other wardrobe malfunction might be problematic. With the cursory role a mirror plays in my life, I wouldn’t have guessed that I would miss the feeling of being grounded that comes from an occasional reflection of myself. Walking through the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, I saw so many images of myself that I felt fragmented and broken. In my present surroundings, mirrors are not readily visible. In the absence of mirrors, I find myself freed from the need to - involuntarilycheck that I am neat, that I am put together. I have also forgone eyeliner and blush.
For the past four days I have seen my likeness twice, and both times I was surprised.
The first time, just last night, my son, 140 miles away, asked me to use Facetime on our iPhones. This feature allows us to talk face-to-face. Inadvertently, I had the camera turned on myself. I was flabbergasted by the woman I saw with a deep furrow between her eyes, just noticeably behind her glasses. The second viewing was this afternoon. I found a small mirror while sorting though some framed pictures and paintings. Slowly, I brought the mirrored glass up to my face. I was startled by the person looking back at me. She was older, plainer, and mousier than the image I hold of myself. I put the mirror back among the framed pictures and paintings. I prefer not to be greeted by any more such surprises.