It’s a complicated story, this face thing.

If you  were to analyze all the individual components of my face—eyes, nose, lips, ears, the bone structure, the forehead, the overbite that still is there even after the braces and the strap that was intended to pull the top jaw into alignment—your overall impression probably wouldn’t be, Wow, now that’s a beautiful face. My eyes are greenish gold; a friend describes my nose as the most finely chiseled nose ever. I wear five earrings, often of varying lengths and designs; my hair has been crew-cut length for over 20 years, and lately I have been dying it burgundy.

Growing up, I never saw my face as bad or homely, not beautiful or even pretty. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I certainly didn’t want to trade it for someone else’s. Bred of a jumble of Greek, French, Armenian, Irish, and possibly some Turkish genes, my face never really had an adjective in my mind.

Honestly, even as an adult I rarely looked at my face in an attentive way. I have never defined myself by how I looked, but more by how I lived. I was more likely to catch sight of my reflection in the curtainless kitchen windows that separated me from the woods and pond outside my northern Maine home than in a mirror. Each morning I’ve brushed my teeth, washed my face, and maybe slapped a little powder on it, inserted the five earrings, and got going. I couldn’t imagine any other way of being in the world.

And then I lost my face. Not literally, as in the world might wince at me or choose not to look in my direction if it had a choice. I lost my real face, the one I see from the inside, not the outside…


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