Posts Tagged ‘teenage angst’

Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it, but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance. (Charles A. Lindbergh)

Strange how memories hit when they are least expected. I’m looking into the mirror at my 69-year-old self. I remember seeing the same younger face at least 53 years earlier. The scene is in my parents’ bedroom at my mother’s vanity. And I’m trying to turn my thin, curl-resistant hair into the bouffant my peers wear. I know nothing about regularly scheduled haircuts. That could help. But the money for such frivolities isn’t in the family budget.

However, the expression I recall is not mine but my mother’s, reflected behind me. She’s exasperated with her superficial daughter, focused on appearance. I admit the color is fine, a bright strawberry blond, but the gold never reaches below the follicles, into my scalp, into my being. I believe what my classmates have told me since first grade. I am the outsider. The kid with names that come with a taunt.

Mom complains that she has taught me to be a larger-minded girl, a Ten-Commandments person. I cut my rant short, but a deeper less-than has set in. I put down both the comb and my own sense of self as well.

My mother did what she believed was right. I don’t blame her. On an intellectual level she had a point. However, perspective needs to be discovered through example and experience, not imposed.

Now I look into the mirror in my own bedroom. My hair is cut short to avoid a need to style. I no longer care about beauty. Don’t ask me about fashion; I don’t follow the trends. And I don’t apologize for my wrinkles. They carry experience. Some of that experience continues to be incredible. Some of it cracked me more than I want to admit. Some of what-I-carry-from-the-past involved others’ hurts. And I couldn’t always help.

But the holes are what create the beauty in lace, the negative space in art, the places that force a person to recognize need. The cracks are where the light shines through. And I’m not sure I am sorry about the difficult times. They taught me to look into the eyes of another person and see more similarities than differences.

Moreover, I had good friends along the way. I meet with some of them every week—others less often. But I know I am not alone. Not an outcast. The notion is an illusion.

I have learned to rewrite the script and speak for a mother who didn’t know what to say, to ask questions to get to the real issues. “Yes, I know this is important to you now. However, this is the gift I see in this moment…”

Then, perhaps, any mirror could reflect more than an image that appears backwards, and permit possibilities. I can’t say I know where they will go. I don’t. Today’s landscape shows no more than a few clouds along the horizon, never within reach, always changing. Always, always changing.

beauty of the broken

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