Sunday, January 17, 2016

Compact

It is not exactly an antique. It is a replica, but I do not know how old it is, so in some ways it could be an antique. Or a fake, a word I prefer not to use—it is pejorative in most cases. A bold fake is a forgery, and is thus elevated by the allure of criminality.

It is made of bronze and has long ago lost its luster. It is now green. I do not even use it anymore. Both of these facts are due to my incipient sloth. On the one hand, polishing bronze is boring and to be avoided. I still care about how I look, but I find myself not as scrupulous regarding make up. Do I look decent enough? Is something in my nose? I know other women who attempt to stave off the effects of age with make-up in varying degrees of success and technique. The more successful enhance the graces of maturity. The unsuccessful replicate the cakings-on once deemed necessary for hiding acne. Age and acne. Both begin with A and end with E.

Like most women I have other compacts. The number varies as to how much space I have to keep things. I used to keep one in a boyfriend's car, for example, because I lived in the City and didn't need a car. When I found someone else's compact in his car, I knew that it was time to move on to a new place. Now I think there is one in the cab of my pick-up truck somewhere. So I will dig through my bag for The Compact. This one. The one from Marseille.

I don't take the compact along as much because I am somewhat afraid of losing it. I don't usually lose things, as a rule, but these things happen. Yes, I am aware that we lose everything at some point, but this particular object is a souvenir as well as a utilitarian object. It doesn't just hold make-up, it holds memories.

This compact makes my nose look right. Not small, as you may think. No, by this point I know that my nose is large, but it is also not entirely condor-like, either. In the mirror, I am beautiful, brown and big-nosed—a Mediterranean woman. As always, I remember when I first saw the light.

Was it the light of Marseille? Was it that light on that compact? I am not sure and like many things I do not wish to question too deeply, I simply don't look for disappointments. They find me all too easily without any work of my own.

But no, that is not the end of it. It is rather before, when I walked out and in the light of Marseille I looked in the mirror and saw a woman who has been around since the dawn of civilization. For a moment, I saw myself going around topless in a massive hooped skirt with snakes winding around my arms, this woman was also a reflection on the thinnest sheet of reflecting metal. Mirrors do not lie, exactly. I do not mean the distorted ones that allow "objects are closer than they appear." That is simply a truism of living.

I am not going to wear make-up today. I just wanted to look in the mirror a bit and not see myself but reexamine that 27 year old woman I used to be. Like mirrors, make-up is not there to hide things but to tell different truths/

(A shortened version of an essay-in-process for A Closet Full of Lies)

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