My new room has a door, a window, a bed, and nothing much else. I’m living among suitcases strewn across the floor because there’s a closet-sized bathroom, but no closet and I have an extra 30 minutes to sleep in every morning since there’s no mirror to get ready in front of.
But this morning, I woke up before my alarm went off, I washed up an hour before I had to and I had so much extra time on my hands that I finally decided to reacquaint myself with my face. Hence, came out the little compact with its tiny mirror and me, feeling like quite the diva holding it up to my face.
While it’s no fun trying to apply kohl single handed, there’s yet another reason to dislike these teeny-tiny reflective surfaces, I realised; they show your face in agonizing detail. I could spot every little testosterone-y strand of hair on my upper lip. I could see just how bushy my eyebrows had gotten. I could study in great detail the dark hollows beneath my eyes where shadows seem to have taken up permanent residence.
Along with all of these newly-acquired concerns, my hand stopped and my face rushed close to the mirror when I noticed these little pockmarks guarding my nose from either side. Remnants of an adolescent battle with acne that, obviously, I lost. I poked, I prodded, I stretched the skin between my fingers and admired the tenacity of a little pocket of dirt in the scar that it left behind on me.
And then, I couldn’t help it, I laughed. This entire exercise of looking at my face, pointing out its many faults, studying my perceived defects…it rushed through my head in one shot and I felt like I was in the middle of a Bridget Jones’ movie. So, I laughed.
Why are we so afraid of looking like we do? We want to change this, tweak that. Well, change is constant and shouldn’t be feared, I agree. But, that goes both ways- change that’s apparently good and change that’s apparently bad. Laugh lines, wrinkles, grey hair and even pockmarks left behind by an earlier bout of acne.
This morning, my mirror helped me take a walk down memory lane into those times when exams meant a pimple blooming on my cheek and summer was heralded by another one under my eyebrow. It reminded me of all those arguments between my mother and me over things that apparently needed to be applied to my face. I remembered shared commiseration over teenage issues in college- a discussion that started with pimples and ended in women’s lib during those days of idealism and greasy food.
So many memories rushed through my head in a moment all due to a few pockmarks and a mirror. See, I’ve lived for 25 years on this planet. Six of those were spent being a teenager. These marks on my face- they are reminders of a time when I cried dramatically in a locked room, of when I fought tooth and nail with my mother against every little thing, of a time when friends meant everything. They remind me of times that make me laugh fondly when I look back at them now.
These tiny scars that showed up in my mirror are all part of and signs of a life well-lived and memories made. So, in that moment, I grew rather fond of those pockmarks on my face. I hailed their good job in guarding my nose and blew myself a kiss.