Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Metaphor, Then

I am on a packed N train, coming home from a meeting of my writing group.  I am standing.  The window of the N train is bisected horizontally—a bar crosses just at my shoulders, so that in the reflection of the window, my head is divided from my body.  I am looking at my reflected face, staring myself in the eyes; I am scrutinizing my cheekbones.  There is an unfamiliarity to my face—it feels different, feels foreign, I have a mild sense of dislocation from it.  It is not quite mine.  I isolate that sense in the steepened angle around my chin, the mild shading below my cheekbones.  It's closer to my other face.  The face I think of as my real face, inside my regular face cluttered up by the parts of my regular face I don't like.  Doesn't that feel a little wrong?  It feels a little wrong.  How can my real face be a face I've never seen?  That doesn't make any sense.  My real face is my regular face.  My real face is every face attached to my skull, the skull within which my brain chases itself in circles.  At the end of my therapy session today, I earmarked our topic for next week: "How do I reconcile the pleasure I feel at being more acceptable by a standard I hate?  It is fucking me all up."

The train swoops up onto the Manhattan Bridge.  When the afternoon light comes streaming into the car, my reflection is gone and I am looking out eastward at the sprawl of lower Manhattan, the old tenements full of other people and their lives, the bright water of the East River.

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