Posts Tagged ‘navel gazing’


Posted: September 1, 2016 by zenstitcher in Grey Cat Dreams, Stuff
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This is one of my earliest coherent memories.I can’t think what’s brought it to mind lately, but in idle moments I’ve found myself remembering this, and pondering.

I was around age five to six, right in that bracket of starting kindergarten and being away from my mother for extended periods for the first time. We lived in a little house on Drake Drive, and my younger brother Chris must have been toddling around somewhere at that time, too. I was sitting at mom’s dressing table, in the bedroom she shared with dad, facing the mirror while she brushed my hair. It was wavy, just darkening from the butter-blond it had been since I was a baby, and had been bobbed to about shoulder length. There was sunshine and birdsong, so it had to have been warm enough to have the windows open, and she must have been looking at my face in the mirror – I think I had been playing with something on her dresser, not looking at her or my reflection at all. 

She said to me, “I love how you always have a smile on your face.”

I love my mother so much, and always have, though I don’t suppose it looks much like love to anyone who has their mother in their hip pocket – or who is trying to be in her mother’s – all the time.

I remember feeling surprise as I looked from her face in the mirror to my own reflection. Sure enough, there were tiny little curls at the corners of my mouth. I’d never noticed them before. It had never occurred to me that there was any other way for my face to be, until that moment.

Surprise turned to puzzlement. Thinking about it for a second, I let the corners of my mouth relax into a straight line, and it felt so damned odd. For that fleeting moment, it didn’t even feel like my face anymore.

And then, in the mirror, I saw my mother’s smile collapse. I think I must have felt something from her, some moment of horror or self-blame, perhaps. I know I remember that second moment of surprise, as if I’d been caught doing something wrong. I remember – I  remember – smiling for her again, right away, hoping to make it right again, or at least better.

She smiled, relaxed, and I don’t remember anything else about the incident except that, when I put that smile back on, it didn’t feel the same. My face didn’t feel the same. 

I didn’t feel the same.


Metaphor moment coming up here. I live my life in and with an awareness of symbols – from the tiny little marks signifying color changes on a cross-stitch chart all the way up and out to my daily life and what’s going on in the world around me. If it’s a problem for you on any level, you know how to click out of here. I promise, I won’t even know. As it says up there on the label – close to zero fucks left to give. Take what you need, peace be with you, I’ll leave a light on for you.


It feels like that moment was a fall from grace.

Perhaps the moment stuck with me because I’d made it so long before anyone pointed it out to me – in other words, I was simply old enough to remember it. And, maybe it’s also true that this was a fundamental moment, and a profound sequence of choices, and that I’ve been recapitulating them and  living with the consequences, ever since.

A lot has happened for Sue and I both in 2016, but do you know, after I dragged myself out of that most recent depression sinkhole, and figured out that I wanted to live after all – and after my soul cried out for help, and after the help arrived in the form of exquisite art arranged in cards with SYMBOLS I can work with (thank you)…

…and after the work had been happening for awhile…

…I discovered one morning, as I was elbow-deep in dish soap, that I was smiling and had been for some time, without knowing it. I felt that old, familiar curl in the corners of my mouth, and remembered the girl in the mirror, and that first, unknowing step she took out of innocence and ignorance. 

This smile feels like a very good one to wear every day, like something I can dress up for special people and occasions. It’s gentle, but it’s also kinda warm, and sexy, and sometimes mischievous, too – I look at it in the mirror and think, “Wow, baby, where have you been all this time?” 

Ah, well. It took me half a century, almost, to find my way back to the garden. 

As it turns out, that’s right on time.