Haddie is on my lap. It is Sunday morning. I have been working and drinking coffee in solitude. A solitude that required no heels, makeup or accessorizing. So here I am in my favorite flannel pajama pants that are worn embarassingly thin along the inseam as a direct result of years of abuse by my well endowed thighs. I am a runner. Why, why do I have these mammoth thighs? My hair, normally tamed under hundreds of dollars worth of potions, gels, defrizzing shampoos and smoothing treatments is loose and free and out of control. My face is scrubbed clean without a hint of lipgloss, eyeliner, foundation, or perfectly applied shadow. Every wrinkle, blemish and large pore is free and clear to loudly declare the truth about my age and imperfections.
And yet, my little five year old with her own mussed up hair, grabs that face of mine in her tiny warm hands and declares “You are pretty Mama!” My heart wants to explode. If only she knew the depth of meaning that sentiment held for me.
I have never believed I was pretty much less beautiful.
I look in the mirror and I see the scars of an acne ridden sixteen year old that picked -picked -picked nervously. And since she was always nervous, something on her face was always bleeding. 25 years later the open sores are gone but the pock marks are unmistakeable. I see a left eyebrow worn thin in one spot. It is that spot that my pinky finger is magnetically drawn to when I am deep in thought, exhausted or anxious. And since I spend virtually every second of my day thinking, exhausted or anxious, that bit where my eyebrow used to be is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. I see a snaggle front tooth that just encroaches on its neighbor. This tooth, in carelessly (or candidly) taken photos, through its shadow gives the illusion of an empty space. So as I look in the mirror this morning, I see a toothless, pock-marked, aging lady with a missing eyebrow and hair begging to be contained by some vessel or band or product.
I laugh a little thinking about all of those bottles of hair products lining my counter right now. Special curly hair shampoo: $40 Special De-Frizz conditioner $40. Stiff hair gel: $45. Gentle hair gel: $45. Lastly my mind finds the tiny brown bottle: Moroccan Argan Oil $37. This tiny bottle reminds me of my adolescent ”hair ritual” Wash, condition, tear ferociously through the thick tangled strands with a wire brush, pour a fistful of olive oil into my palms, rub them together and smooth it in. Yes, olive oil. In an Egyptian house hold, there was no shortage of that. Gallons for deep frying falafel, dressing fava beans, and handling hair disasters. While it was remarkably effective at taming the curls and smoothing the frizz, it also smelled like….food. As a fifteen-year-old it was with dread that I sat in my high school homeroom class waiting for the ritualistic announcement by the teacher: “WHO HAS THEIR LUNCH OPEN IN HERE?”
This morning, my hair smells like the expensive shampoo, the countless products and the hint of smoke from last night’s fire. But my Haddie doesn’t mind, she nuzzles my neck affectionately and does not declare reference to lunch period. She just sits quietly on my lap with her hands on my face. And, I have never felt more beautiful.