The Mirror

The other night I dreamed that I had no skin. Just bones, so you could see all my dental work. I looked at my skull in the mirror and wondered if it was really me. When I woke, I kept thinking about it. Who am I, anyway?

We are all the sum total of our physical and mental parts, our upbringing and experiences. Then there’s that ten percent of uncertainty. Like the burger you buy from a street vendor, and are almost certain its beef. We get our ideas about ourselves from parents and friends, but also from the things we like to do. For me, this has changed over time.

When I was in my forties, I became obsessed with decorating. Like the poor woman’s Martha Stewart, I gave my house a makeover. Ripping out carpets, replacing them with fake hardwood, repainting all the walls. I even recovered the sofa, which, believe me. Don’t ever do it. There are at least ten thousand staples in there and no way to stretch the new material quite as tight. The whole experience was strangely satisfying, though. When we moved, we had to renovate the new place, but I never took the same joy in it. It was just something I had to do.

What changed? I’m not sure. All I know is that I don’t care what colour my walls are anymore. I’m feeling nostalgic for the lightness of my youth, the lack of possessions. Fixing broken things, putting in a new lawn (remember the cinch bugs?) Changing the odd window. That’s what I’m willing to do now.

I’m not a big shopper, either, but the dressing room mirror does provide some role play opportunities. Is this me, I wonder, as I try on something sporty. Or am I more classic? Goth? Does this fringed dress work? How about fishnet stockings or jeggings? Hmm. The problem with self definition by wardrobe is that it only lasts for about five minutes. Then you’re back to being you.

On bad shopping days, nothing works. When I feel that happening, I look in the mirror at my own boots, jacket and jeans and say, good enough. What’s wrong with looking like someone who lives in northern Canada, anyway? After all, its a huge part of my not so mysterious ten percent. At least I got that figured out.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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