Susan Young

Time Mirror

I saw my old self in a teenage girl today. She was getting out of a car with her family and into the wind. You could tell she was very irritated at the breeze as it made a mess out of her formerly perfect hair. Her attempts to keep her tresses down and prevent them from covering her cute headband were comically futile.

Looking around, there was no one there but her family, myself passing on the sidewalk, and maybe one other pedestrian across the street they showed no signs of recognizing. Why all the fuss? The answer is simple: image. If anyone sees you, the image must be perfect. It doesn’t matter who or where - they all must think you have it together and that you’re flawless. The reasoning is so recognizable because I burdened myself with it at her age and beyond.

My musings were then interrupted by the sight of my current self reflected back in a shop window. My short hair was nearly perfectly vertical from the wind, but I made no effort to fix it knowing how utterly useless that would be until I was inside.

I saw myself walking back over the same sidewalk half an hour later with a heavy backpack and a large package of toilet paper hanging from the plastic handles they stick on at Target to make them easier to carry. It wasn’t embarrassing or “uncool”. It said nothing about whether I “had it all together”. It just was. It was toilet paper. We all use it. My hair was once again tossed around by the wind. So was everyone else’s. It was funny to see how little it mattered now.

Then I came home, wind blown hair, toilet paper and all, to a smiling husband who tells me I’m beautiful, treats me like a queen and who also appreciates that I ran to the store and bought toilet paper.