Recognizing the Unrecognizable

The snow is flying in speckles outside the window. White flakes furiously prance in a surreal glitter glory. My face is naked staring at the reflection in my hundred year old vanity. Three mirrors, yellowed and fading with curling and peeling edges, surround a surface coated in coffee cup rings. Stains from starting my morning and spilling caffeine trying to make haste. I’ve got to get to where I’m going. There are things I’m required to get done today. They can’t wait until tomorrow. Today is the day to accomplish these tasks. I start my day covering a face I no longer recognize.

Almost three and half decades of life and I ask myself:

“Are you where you thought you’d be?” 

Hard question to answer. Every thought has changed as the hands on the clock keep going round and round the numbers. I remind myself, time like money only carries the significance we place on it. Numbers carry the value that people tell them they’re worth. None of it is truly real.

My worth has changed. My face keeps transforming into a person I don’t recognize. It is growing older and seeing a different world than the one it saw 10 or 20 years ago. The child still living inside of me thought she would be standing on a Major League Baseball field breaking gender norms and barriers. The silly big dream lost in my faded youth.

The teenager had a life set forth and wanted to be a lawyer, perhaps married to a lawyer. That was the plan. Graduate Ole Miss and marry, buy a house, and make babies. Become a dignified proper southern wife. The teenager never counted for marrying too young, and not leaving the hills called home.

The spitfire youth also failed to recognize I wasn’t born southern. I don’t have a genteel disposition or features. My hands are cracked from too many winters spent working in the cold. They are split open with dried blood droplets on worn knuckles. Working man’s hand cream won’t fix them. They are petite in stature, but they’ve gotten a lot of jobs done. Teenage me didn’t know one damn thing about the world, except to work hard. While waiting tables I learned a dollar tipped is a dollar earned, and it’s one more dollar than I had before. Teenage me recognized the worth in working.

As for 20 year old me, I’m not fond of the ‘lost girl.’ Frankly, my hideous self loathing hatred arises mainly out the years known as my 20’s. Maybe those years happen so we can make mistakes. Big and small mistakes chalked full of self discovery. Regardless of what they are for, I’m happy they are over. They were a great lesson in who one does not want to be. I still have nightmares about those years, mainly centered around a college setting. There’s always one last class I need in order to graduate. One more test to take and I haven’t attended the class. I don’t know the material.

I never knew the material. I didn’t get life’s little yellow and black Cliff Notes book. I have what people are starting to call a ‘middle aged’ face staring back at me. I’m not in the middle. I’m in the beginning.

Today, I stared at a blank face. A palette to paint with a smile, or a frown. The snow whipped it’s way across the gray roof shingles. Weather people say more snow is coming. Perhaps it may, and it will melt away as it has done so many years before. Life melts away.

One day not too long ago, I was out in my parents’ backyard throwing a ball up in the air. I had a broken-in, well weathered softball glove and I was going to step up to the plate. Then a day came and went, and more days came and went. Before I knew it there came a daybreak gathering bigger, more refined thoughts of who I’m going to be when I supposedly ‘grow up.’ I thought I should go to law school. I thought I should be some other man’s wife with other souls whom I would call my children.

I’m glad I don’t know those people, the imagined ones created in “what-I’m-going-to-be-when-I grow-up.” I’ve grown rather fond of the man I do call my husband and the toddler I’m proud to call my son.

Am I where I thought I was going to be? No. Not by a long shot.

Am I happy with the reflection staring back at me? Yes. Yes, I am.

There is one thing that is real.

The face staring back at me will continue to change as will the dreams. Dreams are made to be molded, reshaped, scrapped, and built upon.

105H

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Jill
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I’m not in the middle. I’m in the beginning.
I think I’m supposed to be in the middle but I don’t feel that I really am. Those words in your post resonated with me.
I am not who I thought I’d be, either. Am I happy with the me I see staring back at me? As you are, yes. Mostly yes.

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