Thursday, March 1, 2012

What Do I Look Like?

"I believe that I have known you for &&&&*** years " wrote Ami, who I knew as Amy when our parents moved into the same neighborhood 6 decades ago.  Her family came a little later than ours; her house was on the cul-de-sac that was a wooded area with a stream when my folks moved in.  Only a weeping willow remained of the vegetation after the builders were through; Amy and I used to hide under its branches.

" I still remember you as '16'", wrote Mr. Horowitz, my high school chemistry teacher and after-school mentor.  Funny.... that's how I remember myself, too.

Do you have a picture of yourself in your brain?  You know, the one that pops up when you think back to that day at the beach or the walk in the rain?  When you switch to a more recent image, which version of yourself do you see?

I ask because I wrote a check on Monday, my birthday, and dated it as my birthday - February 27, 1952.

Have I really regressed that far?

I see photos of myself at my college graduation and they feel perfectly congruent to my self-image right now.

Sure, I know I'm grey.  Yes, I know that the years have taken their toll.

But, when I close my eyes and run the tape of my life, I never seem to age.

I am stuck right here.  It feels great.

I have certain pictures which define me to myself.  There have been days which will stay with me forever.  I wonder if that's because they were captured on film and put in the photo slot of a jewelry box I see every morning in my closet, or if the sun and the sand and my dad and it being the day before I got married have more to do with it.

It doesn't really matter.  Every time I put on a bathing suit, my mental image is of me in this orange striped two piece, digging my toes in the sand at Point Lookout.

G'ma is surprised by the face that she sees in the mirror when she puts on her lipstick.  "When did I get so wrinkled?"

This is the way she's always looked to me, though I know that can't possibly be true.

She had dark hair and smooth skin at one point.  She must have, right?

Yet, I close my eyes and I see her current incarnation superimposed on my memories. 

I'm sure that there is a psychological reason for all of this, but I am not interested in investigating it right now.  I am amusing myself with the notion that I am reverse aging in my brain, and that I have inherited the tendency from my maternal unit.

There are some times when I am glad that the acorn fell close to the tree.


  1. It's ironic you have put this post up today. As I was driving into the office, I was thinking about a friend that is turning 40 on the 21st. I've always thought of her way younger than me, but for some reason that number felt weird in my brain--especially for her to be 40. I almost had a panic attack too when I thought of this friend turning 40. I'm 43 getting ready to turn 44, but I still see myself as a 20-something. Maybe it's the realization that I am truly in my 40s?

    I'm not certain why we see ourselves as younger, but I've always seen myself this way. At times, it's hard to even think of myself as a mother because I see myself younger. And then I think, "Oh my gosh, I'm totally responsible for these three other people". It's quite scary sometimes...

    Love the pixs!

    Megan xxx

  2. The Missus thinks it's hilarious that I don't know that I have silver (=gray, =white, take your pick) hair. But it's a more fine-tuned ignorance than that: When I look in the mirror, I see that I have brown hair. When I see recent photos of myself, I'm always surprised: what happened to all the brown?

    (Maybe 10 years ago, we were meeting a friend downtown during a big annual festival. We agreed on a general meeting area, but how to find one another among the boisterous shoulder-to-shoulder crowd? "No problem," the friend said, "I'll recognize JES's silvery hair." That comment bothered me for years.)

  3. A belated Happy Birthday to you! Thanks for the photos.

  4. Remember when dad saw that picture of us hugging on the White House blog and had to stop himself and ask who was the grey haired guy I was hugging? I still see him in a suit with light brown hair and you in that silly sweater with pom poms that you wore to the KC and JoJo concert at the Fillmore with me :)

  5. In August we will have been married as long as you've been on the earth! I have been looking at greying hair since 1972 when friends thought I was having it "applied" through one of those bathing cap deals at the beauty salon. So I'm used to the silvery hair.
    What I'd like to see in the mirror are my blue eyes wide, without the wringled lids drooping over!


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