July 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

I bumped into an old friend yesterday. By friend, I mean someone I’ve known for several years. By friend, I mean someone who I lived with for three years. By friend, I mean someone who knows little of all this. Who speaks over the end of my sentences to make sure I end them her way. Anyway, I collided with this friend quite unexpectedly yesterday. In our brief conversation we established what we were both up to and when we might see each other next. Properly. Possibly. In our brief conversation, I told her that I was living alone at the moment, trying to finish some work projects and that I hadn’t seen anyone (at all) for a while. She told me she was in town for the weekend, catching up with old friends and was going out tonight, to somewhere I wouldn’t like. Then we talked  about where I might be moving to in the autumn. London, I said. Ah, but you’ll be far ‘too cool’ to live in Clapham near me, she replied.

We parted ways and I went on with my wanderings. I found myself queuing for changing rooms in a shop that it far too ‘cool’ for it’s own good, let alone mine. The queue moved quickly, the shop attendant passing me several times before it was finally my turn. At which point a rather more attractive girl arrived next to me. On his next visit to the front of the queue, he made a beeline for her. Without thinking, she said ‘she was before me’ and pointed in my direction, but from the look of admonishment on my face, he knew I knew. And the look of surprise on his face suggested that he was shocked to have been caught in the act. Of not noticing a plain girl and favouring a more beautiful one.

In the changing room, I discovered that two of the sale dresses I picked up made me look rather beautiful. Taking them off in front of full length mirrors was an exercise in averted gazes, but while the dresses were on, I knew I was doing okay and that the rest would eventually be accepted or changed.

What others see is not what I have to see. My friends may not see the whole picture because I choose, largely, to deal with this alone, but they see other things. Things that I have worked hard to express. I don’t necessarily like what you do. In the face of a force that finishes your questions before you do, that takes some work. What a stranger sees as plain, or whatever it was that he didn’t see when I was waiting in line, I don’t have to see myself as. This should, perhaps, have been obvious to me all along. But actually, it’s a bit of a revelation.

I’ve always been self-conscious of taking photos of every detail of my life, feeling as though I am trying to prove something to someone, everyone, about my worth. This weekend I have tried to take a few shots to act as a mirror. While I have trouble seeing myself without the hall of mirrors of other people’s opinions, yesterday I started to see what might happen if I let myself look at what I was doing clearly.  I might be less afraid of my own ripples and reflections in the world around me.



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