I never missed a chance to find myself in a mirror. In shopping malls, my car, elevators, glass storefronts, hidden in the sides of the refrigerated shelves of Woolworths… I have found myself everywhere. Sometimes, I have stumbled upon my reflection and my realization that it’s me has lagged, and for a few seconds I think ‘who is that?’ and I guess that’s really what I’m trying to work out.
I have never settled on a final judgement of my looks. Each mirror presents a new opportunity for me to review my face, skin, body, hair, and offer an ephemeral tally of myself. The score is never final. I am floating constantly between the last vision of myself and the next. It is hopeful and desperate and I’m addicted.
Me and my best friend would carry pocket mirrors in high school to check when we would blow our noses all winter and reapply lip gloss with unyielding commitment. Now I carry a plastic Barbie compact with a tiny comb inside and a small circle mirror. Basically, I’m a little budgie and I always have been.
Last year, for almost a month when I moved, I didn’t have a full-length mirror and would only be able to see all of myself at once by standing on the toilet seat, but even then, my face would be cut off. I felt disconnected from myself. Over the years, seeing myself had become being myself.
I have been staying with someone I love in an Airbnb in London. To enter the pied-à-terre, you have go down a set of mossy stairs and humble yourself to the jasmine that will then loom above you like a threat. When you walk through the glass doors you will find yourself drawing your eyes upwards as the rain falls on the skylight making you feel like you’re stuck in a terrarium. It feels like this place was built for someone who is loved. The kindnesses of the design are too particular to not have been born of affection. The saccharine Slush Puppie blue of the shower curtains that when closed together with the steam make you feel as though you’re submerged in a secret ocean. I stand in the shower, which is a bath too, with a mirror for a wall and I watch myself disappear as the steam consumes the definitions of me and gives me back a poem I can’t really remember, a vague approximate of something that is beautiful. Watching myself disappear but knowing I’m still very much there is an exercise is letting go.
I read an article once about how everyone has a mirror face. You know, the face you pull when you’re looking at your reflection and no one else can see. Mirror face is a private face that’s in the same family of faces as mascara face and the lesser-spotted popping-a-pimple face. Girls on TikTok put their mirrors on the grass and take very good selfies. I take my mirror onto the balcony to do that.
In the movies, when a character undergoes a transformation, they run to the mirror to check if it’s real. Seeing myself reflected is like stopping the clock for a moment. It’s like saying ‘I’m here’ and here’s proof. You’ve survived every bad day and your best day hasn't happened yet. But for now, ‘I’m here’.