I came home and took a shower. I always say that you can “wash off the day,” and I always try to.
Although end-of-the-day showers, for me, usually include me putting my hair up in a bun (if it already isn’t, it’s usually the first that retires to comfort within the day), and washing my face. I scrub my big face with facial wash, usually not following the directions to “gently scrub the product in circular motions” while thinking about my day– it’s in these brief moments where I get to close my eyes to think– and as I feel the beads grind against my face I wish it could wash off more than just the dirt and grime from being outside. I scrub and scrub and scrub until I remember to open my eyes to see my naturally yellowish-brown skin suddenly turn light brown and pink.
Going through the motions of cleaning my face I move to my room and sit in front of the mirror my aunt left. She came from America and was shocked to find that we didn’t have mirrors in our rooms, especially mine. Does it matter that I’m a girl without a mirror in her room? I don’t know. So she bought one for herself and when she returned to America, she left it to me. “You need it, you need to see yourself.”
I didn’t want it, honestly. I’m terrified of mirrors.
But it was a waste and the base was shiny. I liked shiny things, anyway. So I sat there and continued my nightly routine in silence. Applying toner to my face using a cotton ball, eyes closed; I started at my forehead, working my way down.
While doing completely non-gentle circular motions (I half followed the directions this time), I opened my eyes and watched the cotton ball slide across my face. Every so often I would look at it and see the dirt from my face and I always wondered where it came from, which street, what room, why was it still there when I almost always scrub my face bare. Then I continue the circular motions, moving the cotton ball from the right part of my face down my chin, then to my left cheek, and then back around. I watch my hand move with the cotton ball and I realized that I was only watching my hands’ motions and looking only at the specific parts of my face the cotton ball was currently “cleansing”.
I wasn’t looking at my face, well, not as a whole at least. I found myself thinking that’s weird. Despite having a good size mirror in the bathroom and on my bedside table, I wouldn’t look at myself. Only at the parts I needed to clean.
So I tried looking at myself. For a minute my gaze just moved from my unkempt brows, to the blackheads on my nose (my facial wash said it would take care of that), the pores on my cheeks, that double chin forming, the hair atop of my head thinning, then my uneven eyes.
It felt like I haven’t seen myself in months and when I finally did, it was unreal. The brown eyes looked empty and the dark circles that hugged them reminded me of nights with a dim lamp and a damp pillow.
Some girls can’t live without mirrors because they always need to see themselves. There’s always something to apply or something touch up. I, on the other hand, hate mirrors because I have to look at myself. And when you look at yourself you see all your flaws staring right back at you.
With a dull pain running through my slowly tightening chest, I quickly smear the moisturizer over my face and turn the mirror away. My routine is done for the night, I won’t need that mirror until the next night.
Dimming the light and laying down, I pick up my phone and message my friend who’s been having a rough day. She tells me all about it and I read attentively. I offer a few words of advice, some harsh comments, and I comfort her and tell her tomorrow will be better. She tells me she appreciates my frankness and strength. I tell her that’s great to know. I told her to get some rest, she’ll be stronger tomorrow. She tells me goodnight and that I should get some rest, too.
Turning off my phone I see the mirror facing away from me before closing my eyes. The dull pain hasn’t left. I start gasping, short bursts, and I know tomorrow I will wake up to small brown eyes and another damp pillow.