My bare face rarely sees the light of day. Not under my public spectacle face which I again fell asleep in last night. Seeing my pillow when I woke up at 3am reminded me of the Bible story where Jesus wipes the sweat and dirt off his face while carrying his burden to crucifixion, a perfect imprint made on a handkerchief. Only my imprint was sexier- long swooshes of black eyeliner where I nuzzled my face into a comfortable rut. This Bible story then reminded me of Forrest Gump. So I smiled.

I sat up in bed, recalled and marked the last page I had consciously read, felt that my hair had already assumed a Flock of Seagulls-esque side flip, and shuffled my way to the bathroom to wash up. I brushed my teeth, flossed and rinsed. (I’m big on oral health as of late for whatever reason.) Then I lathered up, let the vamp swirl down the drain, and toweled off. It felt good to wash away the day- and what a day it had been.

A habit from when I first started playing with my mother’s make-up: sitting on the bathroom counter, my feet in the sink, and my face mere inches from mirror so I could make sure to get gobs of black muck on each of my blonde lashes. Not much changes. Although, today I noticed I had.

My un-made-up face looks like a child’s, or at least I think so. It’s much lighter than the public face except for my cheeks, much more unassuming, and more revealing. That’s probably why I keep it hidden for all but the first and last ten minutes of the day. But tonight when I was examining my features, I noticed something new. Not my irises that I would watch swallow up the black center like a portal with the help of a flashlight when I was a child. Not the chip in my tooth from when Allie knocked a glass bottle I was drinking out of some years ago. Not the bumps and blemishes that come with waves of stress. And not the cupid’s bow that I trace when I’m deep in thought. These are familiar.

It was a wrinkle that I noticed. Two of them, actually, forming faint parentheses around my mouth. I thought the presence of my first wrinkle would be disarming, the first horseman of middle-aged mediocrity, followed by the other horsemen: responsibility, routine, weight gain-particularly in the hip/thigh/belly region, intense interest in television game shows and diminished sex drive.

I looked at them for a while. It’s not like a crease made in paper, but more like the feathered lines in your palm. Feathered ropes that pull the corners of my mouth into a crescent, like a marionette. Had I been ushered into the pupa stage of my metamorphosis? Already? It is true that I’m no longer a child (although my foot stomping and whining ‘nooo staaaay’ suggest otherwise), but a grown up? Father Time and Mother Nature have willed it so and I’m a child who knows no better.

Parentheses. The ghosts of Smiles Past. An inside joke etched into my fa├žade, a history book of bygone days, and a reminder that I, as it seems, am not as (immortal and invincible) as I once thought.

cheers to friends who have seen my wrinkles.

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