My Pretty Face


“ … a pretty girl in your bathroom, checking out her sex appeal.  I asked myself when you said you loved me, do you think this can be real?” ~ Joni Mitchell, “The Same Situation”, Court & Spark album

So, I face planted the other day.  An inelegant, sudden trip at the end of a long, hot run.  And, indeed, planted my face on the asphalt.

Aside from the physical pain of it all – left check, chin and lip, left shoulder and both knees – there was this immediate panicked reaction in me about my face.  My pretty face.  The one I slather with potions and primp and paint and examine with a critical eye in harsh lights every day.  Will there be scars?  Can I be seen in public like this?

I am once again that teenage girl described by Joni above – peering at the mirror and not ever being enough – pretty, smart, thin, rich, witty, well dressed.  Discounting my developing intelligence that would carry me far in life. Pretty was all or nothing. I went through lots of war paint and hair styles to cover up the insecurities that came with my emergence into womanhood.

Would my face be o.k.?  And if it wasn’t, would I be o.k.?

The facts are thus: I am of course enough.  We are born enough.  Life’s work is to reveal our true natures and develop them.  I am deeply loved and gifted with wonderful family and friends. There is so much to appreciate.  I am far more than pretty.  When my husband looked at me after I had iced and medicated and tended to my facial wounds, he leaned over me and said, “Let me find the place I can kiss your face that doesn’t hurt.”  Words so beautiful, I cried.  That is love: finding the intact places while the wounds heal.  And loving them all.  He will always find me pretty. Me, I am a much harsher critic.

I have been assured that with time, salve and sunblock, I will be as good as new. But I will remember the internal imprint left by this wound.  I am no longer the angst-ridden teenager scrutinizing her every flaw.  Perhaps I am reminded by this clumsy fall of just how rich a life I have built for myself after I walked away from that bathroom mirror.