I'm not the prettiest girl who ever lived, that's not what I mean. I love the story my face tells.
At a Turkish restaurant the other night, justbeast stroked my hair, which is very long and black and said "You almost look Turkish--no, wait, Danish nose!" He then booped my Danish nose.
When I look in the mirror, I see so many stories and families there. I do have long black hair, incredibly thick and naturally wavy--the gift of Sicilian grandmothers. Olive skin and dark lightly frizzy hair would make me look vaguely Turkish or Arabic (I pass as native anywhere in the Mediterranean, generally), especially when I haven't been hiding from the sun, except for the round little Danish nose, the remnant of scholarly folk from Odense, snub and cheerful as a North Pole elf, and the broad cheeks one of my brothers and I share, the last wisp of Cherokee in us.
I have, like any good Mary Sue, olive green eyes. Really and seriously--they were hazel when I was a kid, but sometime in my late teens they calmed down into a deep, dark green. I always thought this was an incomplete dominance thing as my father has light green eyes and my Italian family has mostly brown eyes, but two of my female cousins also have these eyes, and they are not related to my Italian side, so I wonder if it doesn't come from somewhere on the other side of the family, possibly our Dutch great-great-great grandmother. I have a full mouth--I don't know where this comes from, both my parents have thin lips. It's a mystery--every face has a few. And then there's the broad shoulders, awkward on a woman, that I see in my uncle's frame, too. The high forehead, which becomes a receding hairline in the men of my Welsh blood.
As I get older, I look more and more like that broad-cheeked half-brother, the one nearest in age to me. When we were young we didn't look at all alike, but I see him in my face now, and in our identical forefingers. (Such a weird thing to notice, but our fingers and fingernails are shaped exactly the same.)
There are all these amazing people in my face. People who came over an ocean in 1670, 1914, 1920. People who hid their history, or wore it plainly. People who crossed the Continental Divide, or were forced to walk to Oklahoma. People who dreamed and lived and made love and worked and created and wept and died, of which I am a unique terminus--especially so since I have no full siblings. I am the only repository of my particular genetic story. And I wear this story every day, as though it's nothing, as though my life is the only one I live.
There's something amazing about that, about the ways in which every face is an end-point of an extraordinary story. And the stories go on in our children, of course, but everyone is still their own evolved end-point. and since I have no children yet, I am a lonely prong on our antlering facial evolutionary beast.
I like to think about these things. It makes me feel alive, a part of Something. A mirror is a glass that shows the agony and passion of a thousand human lives.