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a good mirror

I walk along the glorious blue¬†Ceanothus in Golden Gate park in that gorgeous Bay light that makes any woman in San Francisco feel like a star. Normally I would be giddily browsing the shops on Fillmore, the Haight, Union Square and Soma…I’m a girl who loves my cocktail dresses and shoes…but this trip I am avoiding temptation and sticking to the parks.images

JP cast me in his latest film and when I ask him, “What is scheduled for today?” He smiles, “For you, a day off.” What a gracious and smart director. I pass the Victorian carousel, the rose garden, the game of baseball. I’m on my way to Trader Joes for those un-sulfured dried blueberries I so love. And I get a half bottle of prosecco because not matter how often I go to the USA, I still get a kick out of buying liquor in the grocery store.

It’s that “rock and a hard place” time of year, any freelancer will understand: the lean hour when credit and cushion are gone and the next cheque better arrive when it’s supposed to come. The cheque to come is from a regional theatre in Boston: it cheers me up just to say that out loud. How did my play get there? I don’t know. He heard about the run in Chicago? How did the play get to Chicago? I don’t know. It’s magic.

i had twenty bucks to spend crossing the border with my highly flammable mastercard, hoping I would not be called upon to take a cab. But just before I left, at 5:30am when Fellow got up to drive me to the airport, he slipped a wad of American green into my hand, “some mad money”, he said, without me mentioning anything about it, pride and all. So, it’s with this kind mad money I am getting groceries. The mad part being the prosecco.images-1

I tried on my costumes yesterday. JP is working with a lovely designer named Tamara (I love it when it rhymes with camera). She put me in a bouquet of jewel toned Ralph Lauren gowns with a vintage real fur wrap. Her inspiration: Sophia Loren. It is not hard for me to instantly love this woman. And as I try each swishy smooth dress on I barely look in the mirror, I just flutter out feeling lovely. About three dresses in I stop. WHAT?! What is this feeling? Why it’s…unselfconsciousness. I’m not saying horrible things to myself, I am not pulling at the fabric, I am not in near tears over any “trouble spots”, I don’t give a shit, frankly. I am happy, I feel good, and I let them be the judge. So…what has shifted here? Usually I’m on this side of neurotic when it comes to my looks: I am horribly hard on myself and often say nasty things like, “hello rhino, you have mutton legs for arms, you look like a cocktail sausage in this cocktail dress, you are a double for Marlon Brando in his fat years minus the butter” But today, I didn’t even think about it. Has my figure changed? No. What has?images-2

I am very much of the philosophy we must first love ourselves before we can love others and all that whooha. I know better than to be neurotic: God doesn’t make ugly. I think society has a terribly unhealthy idea of beauty and a preoccupation with appearance. I bristle at the thought of relying on the opinion of others for my self worth. I agree with Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” But the truth is, the body is part of the art. I have been criticized to the point of believing I have a weird face and the rest of me is ugly. And I haven’t been able to unthink that on my own very successfully, despite all my kind girlfriends.

It is with mixed feelings that I realize it is Fellow who has changed me. He has held up the mirror to me very deliberately for the past seven months and has said, “you are lovely as you are, you are lovely as you are, you are lovely as you are and you are loved.” I guess one day I decided to believe him. I decided to see myself through his mirror. Is that okay? Is that okay that I allowed someone to change me?

I think so. Maybe this is one of the necessary and wonderful things about community? We actually DO need each other. We need each other to see the truth about ourselves.

As I walk the two miles back to my little apartment I pass a lightsome little man with his fey little dog and smile at how fabulously similar they are. I pass a nanny and her giggling charge, she is pleading with the little girl to give her back her nose so she can smell the roses. I join their laughter. Then, in the only dark corner of my walk, two shady men literally crawl out from under a tree with a bottle and a shifty assessment of the situation and decide to crowd the path and eye me with a lurid hello. Very likely I am in no trouble whatsoever. But regardless, I look them straight in the eyes and mirror back, “you are a good man, you are a good man, you are a good man this afternoon.” And they let me pass. “Hello guys!” I say, sunnily, and they answer with a quiet “Ma’am”.Unknown

 

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