Changing faces and changing light and changing perspectives. Distortion and reality. From Wikipedia, about “The Strike”: “This episode also popularized the concept of a “two-face”: someone who looks attractive sometimes and looks bad at other times, depending on exterior conditions, such as lighting.” I remember saying to my English teacher that I was afraid the lady in that episode was me and he reassured me it wasn’t. I almost believed him. The face in the mirror can change by the instant. Do you look radically different to yourself, minute by minute? And when someone tells you they think that way too, you might think, “You? Not you. You always look great, no matter what.” Or maybe not. Maybe tired sometimes, or sick too.
Exterior and interior conditions. More mascara on one eye than the other. Or maybe mascara on one eye, and none on the other. Too little or too much sleep. A clogged pore. A clogged pore you messed with. Harsh lighting. Slouching. The iPhone camera. Oh God, the iPhone camera. It’s right up there with car mirrors but perhaps worse because these days we see ourselves in distorted reverse Selfie form more often than not. And it’s not good. Oddly enough, I like how I look with the iPhone on Selfie mode while in the car. It’s like two wrongs make a right. There’s a place in my house in which I mostly always like how I look, but only when the sun shines in and the artificial lights are off. A blue background. I take photos there when failure is not an option.
Lately, sometimes, I don’t know the face in the mirror. And this is odd to me because lately, sometimes, I’ve felt closer to the person I’m becoming, or at least the person I’m becoming in this phase of life. Someone more clear. Clear spoken, clear eyed, clear headed, clear hearted. For awhile there, I didn’t see myself having a future. It was a little dark and sinister, like predicting an untimely death, but deep inside I knew it wasn’t that. It was something else – new and storm-rolling – like how certain visions aren’t yet clear on the horizon, until you cross the next path or scale the next hill. Suddenly it’s there, although it was there all along, rolling and tumbling, dormant and forming. I couldn’t see it yet. Too many questions and fears and clouds.
How do I explain, that I see love from both sides now? Maybe one day I’ll see it more like one of Scarlet’s cube puzzles – so many dimensions and sides and colors – always twisting and turning and sliding into place. Then, you shake it loose and start it all over again, but it’s more difficult. Twisty, turny, slidy. That’s how it feels. Like even the harsh pain and stress of marital sadness, years wasted, the Cape Cod house, and the work – the terrible, stomach-churning workload – somehow slides into place. And I’m thankful for it – because it gets me steadier, fuller, clearer, and warmer. It gets me closer. To the pieces of myself, the pieces of him, and the ways in which they meet in the middle. Rising suns, and flowing lava – poured not into paper cups, oh no.
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was truly a show. A blended family with four family sides and a three story house with an art school in the basement? Yup, we hosted Thanksgiving every year and made the swarming masses come to us. Rows and rows of bright yellow, paint-splattered chairs. Bridges across generations, family sides, political differences, and personalities. We did it potluck style and somehow rarely were the ones who had to make the turkey. There was a revolving door of transplants and distant relatives and homeless-for-the-holidays friends, and we also had regulars who attended every year. The menu never really changed: a big a** turkey, sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows on top, rusty potatoes, broccoli/cheese casserole, pumpkin bread, cranberry bread, stuffing, pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream and peanut butter/chocolate pie. With food, we always knew what to expect. With family, we didn’t.
That was the one true constant, and there were smaller ones too. Every year, my dad set up appetizers on the giant wrap-around bar we had in our old house. We even had pulsating lights and a giant silver pole in the room – a pole which became the butt of several jokes I may never tell. And the way the football game goes on, and you think it’s midnight, but it’s really 6:30pm. And some years saw extreme sadness, like my great-aunt vomiting into the silver sink behind our beloved giant bar because of chemotherapy. Real life is not exempt during holidays.
It shifted over the years. When they sold the childhood house and moved to the farm. In and out, to and from Vegas, California, and western Massachusetts. In-laws, kids, and grandkids. The generational shift is frightening to me, as is the gaping, aching abyss of love, but not in the same way. Romantic and familial and familiar and unfamiliar and strange. Strange magic. It’s a strange point right now. This holiday has held and released hopes, dreams, and terrors. Disappointments. Yet, another year to sit around the table and gaze into their eyes. Another chance to get it all so right, instead of all so wrong – to the point of no return. In it to stay.
I don’t want anyone to dread this holiday, like I once did, because of anything I’ve said or done. Do-overs and clean slates. Fresh starts and bright outlooks. By flies the butterfly, we can meet in the middle. Maybe this will be the year of promise, fulfillment, stability, and steadiness. Firm and steady hands and hearts, announcements and pronouncements, and solid, crystal clear, perfectly imperfect, imperfectly perfect love. Maybe this is it. The start of new traditions to stay.
I’m thankful these days, for so much. Mainly the people who make me live, now honey. And for the dreamers and creators and even the night owls like me – creating, reading, writing, eating – all tethered together by these strange currencies. We’re all answering the calls of the wild.
You’re my best friend
Oh, you’re my best friend
Ooh, you make me live
You’re my best friend”
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FTSF) for another fun and challenging prompt. This week’s topic is “Thanksgiving..” And there’s time to write yours. Link up your post HERE.