Walrus man. Balding capybara. The human potato. Egg head. Baboon ass red face.
Bulging shoulders. Chiselled jawline. Leprechaun grin. Squinty, pretty eyes.
Mirrors talk back.
They twist our idea of who we are. One day you’re a flawless covergirl, the next you’re a bulbous potato chip aficionado. Salt and vinegar is such a classic for me. But if you must pry, I choose Doritos Sweet Chili Heat. Anyway, mirrors. Right.
At one point in time, I did everything I could to avoid mirrors. Like the pretty girl in school or learning about taxes, I’d stay clear of anything close to an interaction. I’d keep my eyes down as I washed my hands in washrooms. I’d talk myself out of glancing at a reflective window in downtown office buildings. Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look.
That feeling of self-seclusion and frustration evolved into a drive that changed me forever. My mirror told me to do something about the way I felt. My mirror told me to tighten up my flubbery tits and blubbery bits. My mirror told me it was going to be okay. And everything’s okay because I listened to it.
I wonder what Jennifer Aniston or Bradley Cooper think when they look in the mirror. Do they pick out the flaws invisible to the outside world? Do the characters they’ve played in their biggest flops return and call them ugly and useless? Would their answers be the same as what Zac Easton would say? Or you?
Reflection means more than the zit you popped too soon or the scar on your chin or your one crooked tooth.
There’s this little battle with ourselves when we take a deep look in. We see the story of how we got there, standing stupid, staring at ourselves. We examine every essence of who we are. We wonder what we’ll look like in fifty years. At least I can’t get any balder.
Pure reflection. It’s really a beautiful thing when you think about it. But Christ, don’t think too hard. You’ll hurt yourself.
I lay flat on my back in my winter jacket with my eyes closed, clutching my car keys and wallet. The beautician smears a strip of hot wax under my eyebrow then lays down the paper, gently smoothing it out before she tears is off.
I begin to wonder what science has to say about human touch. The importance of human touch.
Judging by the way I feel right now, having this complete stranger carefully pluck and comb through my unibrow makes me think it must be very important. I could lay here forever in this tiny white room with the orchid in the corner and the smell of nail polish in the air, just as long as someone was looking after my unwanted facial hair and chatting with me about their weekend. I see my eyebrows when I look in the mirror.
He had brown eyes and wore good cologne. He set a specific vibrate for my text messages and no one else’s. We would talk on the phone for three hours, me in the bedroom across from my parents, and him in his basement with his PlayStation and Scentsy. He liked my voice. No one ever tells me they like my voice. We kissed on my 16th birthday while Burlesque played on the TV and his hands sweat onto mine. It was wet and awkward and I wanted it to stop but also wanted to do it again and again. My first kiss. I see my lips when I look in the mirror.
For the last seven weeks, I had been living in a small town outside of Barcelona called Vallromanes. I lived with a family of four, teaching the kids how to make s’mores and learning how to say “shower” in Spanish. We went for coffee and a walk at 6 o’clock and ate dinner at 10. We sliced ice cream, we didn’t scoop it. Gisela, my host, went from an awkward email sign-off to someone who squeezed me hard while we both cried at the train station and said goodbye.
As I made my way back from Catalonia’s countryside to Barcelona’s airport, then onto Ottawa and finally Winnipeg, I saw a lot of things differently. Yes, I had a profound new outlook on the world after my travels, but I also couldn’t see any of the departure screens clearly. I squinted and had to get up close to see my flight times. I see my glasses when I look in the mirror.
I see orange hair, beige freckles, ice pick acne scars, and an oily forehead. Hazel eyes, small ears, and a tongue that can touch my nose. Thighs that are too big and a bum lined with stretch marks. Two birth marks and a pair of unshaved legs.
I see all these things when I look in the mirror, and there’s a 10-page story to go with each and every one of them. Every indent, scratch, bump, bruise and bone make me up into some sort of carefully thought out sculpture or painting.
People aren’t just reflections in a mirror or figures in a photograph. We are stories waiting to be told while simultaneously being written.