Sunday, February 14, 2010


Nothing tells the truth as much as the face. Along longitudinal and latitudinal lines, our faces tell a history that words cannot.

Aging isn't what I thought it would be at all. I always wondered what time would imprint on my face, what collection of stories would gather to let people know me and to see for myself who I’ve become. I never wanted to get nipped or tucked because that would not tell the real story. And it’s been quite a story.

But each day I see myself in the mirror, I wonder how it all happened. New lines joining up with another set of lines, like little squiggles a child would draw, appear almost daily. I buy the gels and creams and more new ones appear. But truly it doesn’t bother me the way I know it bothers others. For one thing, I don’t have to look too long at my face. I certainly could use more exercise and stay away from sugar. But I don’t. The only thing I’ve noticed is that I don’t get people looking at me the way they used to. Other than that, I feel comfortable enough in my skin so that what others think of the way I look is inconsequential.

Last week at the grocery store, I saw a woman whose face was radically disfigured. Her lower jaw was set far into her neck and her mouth stayed wide open, like the famous painting of the Scream. While I didn’t stare, I couldn’t help but take a second glance. There was little in the way of movement in the rest of her face. She was middle aged and it was troubling to look at her. When I got home I thought she might have attempted suicide. I had seen a young man who attempted to kill himself with a gun who looked much the way this woman did.

She was probably used to people staring at her and feeling sorry for her. I just went about my business and thought how lucky I was to have everything in place. I got a new haircut a few months ago and it makes me look younger and feel good.

The face is what we see first, then we get to know each other. The latter is what matters the most to me.

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