I flew on a jet plane from Orlando, Florida, back home to San Diego yesterday on what felt like the world’s longest flight. I finished reading a book (Daisy Jones and The Six) and then watched most of a movie (on my phone) until my headphones died.
Then I still had two hours to fly.
After rejecting the idea of a nap, I picked up my phone and decided to purge photos. After all, how many photos of the ocean/beach/sunset does one person actually need? Deleting them is a tedious and time-consuming chore, perfect for a captive on a plane.
While pursuing images, I came across old photos of myself as a child, as a teenager and then a college student, newlywed and younger mom. I didn’t recognize her. The woman in the mirror doesn’t look like that.
Then I realized that even then, the person I saw in the mirror was a surprise to me. “Is that how I look?” I’d say when I’d see a photograph of myself. The person in the mirror today surprises me.
I started to wonder if I could even describe my own face to a forensic artist. What do I look like? I have no idea.
The me I can’t see is sarcastic and nit-picky and hilarious. She’s smart and hates formal attire and has probably eavesdropped on you if you’ve been having a conversation in earshot. She’s a lot of things, but most of them are invisible to the mirror.
I know she has brown eyes and blondish hair (depending on her stylist) and that it’s never the same two days in a row. But what’s strange is that I always assume people won’t recognize me if they see me in a store. I don’t recognize myself when I accidentally flip my phone on “selfie” mode.
Anyway, maybe other people know what they themselves look like. I just don’t. The mirror surprises (and usually disappoints) me. Am I weird?
To be clear, I am not great at recognizing or describing other people, either. I usually fixate on a trait or two–God forbid I remember you by your outfit and then you change clothes.
Maybe this is just what it’s like to get older. The gulf between what you really look like and what you feel you look like widens until you can’t see either shore.
Let’s face it. It might just be me.