A Map of Your Life
She crossed in front of me on my way to work. A petite woman with dark hair in a chic, cheek length bob. The wind blowing her hair from her face in the cold rugged temperature. It exposed a taut, white, blank area reaching from her cheek to behind her ear. There in the place where all of her memories should have been nothing was in evidence. Just a blank. It looked so strange. I urged and pushed my eyes to find on her the memories that I knew existed. The line from the loss of her first born. The squint from the laugh that she shared with her husband, the love of her life. The pull on her delicate skin as she moved her lashes down with pride and embarrassment while receiving an award for her book just finished. So many moving places she had been not one of them present in her face. They are I assume still in her heart but now I, the quiet observer, can no longer identify them at her brow. One cut from her surgeon and she resembles a blank doll. Not unlike a Stepford wife. But her eyes are wise and do not match her face, at least the part I can see.
I do not understand this in ourselves. I am conflicted. I do believe that our bodies are our own and that no one else should regulate what we do with them. At the same time I do not understand this obsession with youth. I understand the uncertainty and every now the yearning when you see a beautiful young girl and think, I will never again look like that. There is a little sorrow. But not much. I would never want to be searching in quite the way that I used to be. So self-absorbed and unsure about myself that I could not come out to appreciate those around me the way that I can now. I know that many others have had such different experiences in their youth, many not filled with the bouts of pain that mine was filled with.
There are so many different types of beauties. Youth has an incandescence of its own but so does the confidence and glow that comes from knowing yourself. Knowing that if I do not know anyone else I am now at the very least, familiar with myself. My niece who is 13 said so wisely that she is just getting to know herself. As it should be at 13. And hopefully with our family’s help she is going to have a ball in the process. But here is the thing wise women, we are already there. The beauty of this knowing that spreads a light that is undeniable in the presence of an older woman. This light is communicated in each line that I have. Each laugh that I have experienced. Every tear that I have shed. Every time I have stood up to a bully or read a book that I love. Or shared a beautiful and lovely smile with a stranger in the street. Each of these is recorded on my face in the map of my life. I wear them proudly. I observe their presence really without power. I take care of them lovingly with nutrient creams and times out of the sun. But to deny them, to not want to share them, is denying the amazing journey called life and dammit I want people to know when they look at my face what a fantastic life I have lead!