Monday, February 8, 2010

Do you Look Like Yourself?

My eldest was at home today because he'd hurt his neck (playing with papa, of course) the day before. We sat and looked through a book of his baby/toddler pictures, something he doesn't normally show much interest in doing. Come to think of it, I got the book out for him to look at when I was putting away his sister's baby book. For some reason, the younger two love looking at their baby pictures and having me tell them how cute they were--not Koshi. Embarrassing. I knew this, so I said, "wait--here's mommy's favorite" so he'd look. Then we went back to the beginning with the 5- and 6-month old photos, and kept looking, up through 9 months, a year, a year and a half, two, almost three. At which point, he suddenly said, "That looks like me!" Circa 2-going-on-three he finally thought the little boy in the photo looked like the little boy he sees in the mirror every day. Of course, I, who have seen him every day of his life, think that all the pictures look like him. But it did give me a queer feeling. Those photos weren't taken all that long ago (he's only 9), but still, I suppose an immigration agent wouldn't be able to connect his now face with that darling (sorry) baby face. It started me thinking about the snapshots we carry around in our heads of all the people we know, some of whom we see all the time, some of whom we haven't seen in ages. It's such a shock to suddenly think of someone you haven't seen "for a while", and realize that the three-year-old you taught English to must now be....(do the math, that was a decade ago)...13. Or 14. A teenager for crying out loud.

So...if she...weighs the same as a duck... I'm...41. Setting that thought gingerly to the side, I start thinking of other people for whom I have no updated mental snap. Step carefully around wondering what their mental snap of me looks like. Would the people I spent a year in Germany with think I look like me? I usually think I look more or less ok, but then I probably engage in a certain amount of mental photo retouching without really realizing I'm doing it. What if I actually look like somebody completely different now?

I had a dream about my mom and my grandma (who rarely comes to my dreams). We were in the kitchen in the house I grew up in. I looked at my mom, then at my grandma and thought, "wow--mom looks so much like grandma. When did she start looking so much like grandma?" Then my grandma walked out the backdoor. And I was terrified that my mom would follow her, because I knew if she went out the backdoor that I'd never see her again. I woke up crying and afraid. I never told anyone about that dream. About a year later, my mom told me she'd had a near death experience around that time.

Do I look like myself? Or sombody else and I just don't know it?


  1. Great post, and something I have wondered about from time to time as well!
    I am very definitely guilty of mental retouching-- mom and dad are about 45 in my head, we're both around 25... hmmmm.... and somehow none of us look any different than that to my eye...
    Wonder what I really look like (!)

    Didn't know about that dream either-- wow.

  2. Oh, I like the Sei Shonagon-like "things that mystify me" in your side bar!

  3. Everytime I'm reminded of how old you are, it requires rapid, palm-of-the-hand math...because... if *she's* [censored]...then *I* must be...[censored] no. no.

    Glad you like the sidebar--I wasn't really thinking of Sei Shonagon, but now that you mention it, I must have been subconsciously thinking of your list (which I love!) Actually, I was cooking and picked up the bottle of olive oil and it suddenly struck me as really odd. Cause, you know, da Bible says Mary was a virgin (heavy NY italian here), but it jus seems like God would have preference for da extra-virgin, you know what I'm sayin.