1/365 Reflections on a Life: 1

The first time I saw her she was 5-and-a-bit, exactly the same age as I was. We’d just moved out of the apartment on Mountain Street and into our new house on Heine Avenue.

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10/365 Reflections on a Life: 10

The first time we exchanged places it was like stepping into another world, at least for me. I don’t know what it was like for her, we never talked about it. I saw her mother, who looked like my mother, in a different way than I’d ever seen my own mother. Maybe it was because her mother was a stranger to me and strangers don’t yell at other people’s daughters.

17/365 Reflections on a Life: 17

Then I told my daughter about my time as a teenager,  growing up in the house on Heine Avenue. I told her of the fierce arguments I had with my mother. I told her about the girl in the mirror. I explained how we switched places: the girl and I placing our foreheads together, then our fingertips, then pushing through to the other side.

21/365 Reflections on a Life: 21

My mother heard me say, “Mom, what happened to the big mirror in your room? Did it break? Did you get rid of it?”

My mom replied that she’d only moved the mirror to the back of her bedroom door. She seemed to sense panic in my voice, but didn’t ask why.

25/365 Reflections on a Life: 25

Despite being a grown woman, each visit to my mother’s house after that included a visit to her bedroom mirror to remember the child, the teenager, the adult who looked just like me but was somehow a better version of me, who lived in a better place than I did.

29/365 Reflections on a Life: 29

On the way back to Bethesda, hauling a U-Haul loaded with furniture, boxes of photos childhood memories, and my dad’s old chainsaw, I felt a pang of regret in my gut that I’d not taken the mirror with me. We surely could have found room for it in our house and it would have been safe. It would have been comforting to have her with me all the time. (You might be thinking that she’s in every mirror, but there you would be wrong. She is only in that one mirror. I have never seen her in any other.)

30/365 Reflections on a Life: 30

More recently I visited my childhood home for the last time. It was empty, the estate sale agents had done their job well. It was void of everything I knew from my childhood and teen years, from my visits as an adult. It was missing the people I loved, the furniture I sat in, the art on the walls. I walked around, taking pictures for a possible blog post. I went into every room, opened each closet, and peeked into drawers and cabinets. I expected to feel sadness, but instead just felt emptiness.

31/365 Reflections on a Life: 31

On the way home, this time on an airplane, I realized that when I was in that empty house, in my mother’s empty bedroom, I forgot to see if the mirror was still there on the back of the door or if the estate sale agents had sold it to someone wanting a sturdy mirror. Either way, someday someone else will look in that mirror. Will they see the shadow of a lonely teenage girl, angry at her mother about this or that injustice? She’s still there, I know it. I just wonder if it is me or her.

[Author’s note: Here’s the whole story with a photo of the mirror]