Because a life unexamined is lived without intention.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
The heat of the oven is delicious on my skin. My kitchen, with its massive antediluvian window and three outside walls, tends to be one of the coldest rooms in the house--thus leading to a near perpetual parade of fresh breads and cookies, roasts and creamy casseroles, any possible excuse I can come up with to keep the oven burning as we persevere through snow and sleet. Warm air swirls in drafts around me, the scent of rosemary and garlic permeate the evening, doing battle with Jack Frost as he clings to the window glass. One hip resting against the counter, the edge of the porcelain sink cool beneath my fingers....and night slowly swallows the day.
When was the last time you actually watched, minute by minute, the evening arrive? Dusk, with her lovely cloak of grey, gently drapes the world in silver....her darkness eclipsing the skeletal trees, shrouding the back fence, veiling the sky until the window holds nothing more than a dim reflection of the small warm kitchen and the woman within. So still, she stands. Auburn hair framing pale skin. The curve of my neck, the shadow of a collar bone disappearing under white cotton, the glitter of a silver chain.
Is that what I look like? To the trees outside? The rising moon? What do they see?
Every morning I face that woman, run a brush through her hair, blacken her lashes, slide color across her lips. But do you know, we never truly see ourselves...only our reflections. And as so much of vision is actually perception, woven with expectations, memories and hope, rather than strictly observation; I fear I see more...or possibly less, in that reflection than most. Leviathan flaws, monstrous inadequacy, tremendous potential and crushing failure, joy and grief and thirst. Her green eyes gaze back at me, a flat image on mirrored glass; no breath, no warmth, no blood within.
Not me...a reflection.
The other day a friend stopped by for a visit and we sat with cups of tea, feet curled beneath us on the old leather couch in the living room. She smiled at the plants that drape from the mantle and the edge of the buffet, the bird's nest woven with dried grass and filled with painted eggs that rests on the dining room table, surrounded by river stones. "I'd know this was your house even if it were my first time here," she said, "Just by the scent of it....I can see you everywhere, every room reflects you."
I suppose that makes sense, my home is another reflection of me. But one of mingled proportions for others are here too. Finger painted flowers on the wall in the kitchen, brought home with love when my eldest was merely seven, six years past now. End tables that arrived with my husband, the pedal organ from the 1800's that he and I bought together and refurbished into a bar.....paintings signed by my grandmother, the piano from my great grandfather. I wonder what my home says about me...what would a stranger know passing within these walls...what secrets revealed.
I can hear the boys now, downstairs. Laughter echoing up through the vents, a new James Bond video game their latest thrill. A co-worker told me last week when the boys came with my husband to pick me up from the office, that they walked like me. I had no idea. Our children divulge worlds about us, astonishingly accurate reflections of who we really are. Our beliefs and foundations stripped bare of the veneer of speech and facade of accoutrements. Children are the truth of us.
Night has chased away the day now. Wine warms slowly in the glass beside me, casting fractured rays of garnet light from glare of this screen. I wonder at the verity of my soul...the reality of me. Am I found within the reflections? Unmasked in their exposure?