Walking down the street in NYC, I notice a woman putting red lipstick on while looking at her reflection in her handheld mirror. She’s homeless, living out of the bags that encircle her. Oblivious to her surroundings, she holds the lipstick in her hand and, with determination, she starts moving it around and around her lips, causing the definition to disappear. After pausing to carefully check her image in her mirror, she continues applying the red color.
The motion feels eerily familiar. I remember taking my mother’s red lipstick and, while looking in her mirror, I tried to mimic the movement I’d watched her do so often. I rubbed the red around my lips and felt it soften as it glided over itself. The sensation was exciting, full of wonder and mystery that I longed to be a part of. I looked in the mirror at my reflection and tried to imagine what I would look like all grown up.
My attention goes back to the woman on the street and I wonder if she too is looking in her mirror, trying to imagine herself at a different time.
I smile, grateful for the memory she brought back and for the connection we had through an act of femininity.
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Celine was a name that was synonymous with good food in my home. She was my grandmother’s cook. My mother still tells me stories about watching Celine in the kitchen. Her secret, she’d say in a hushed tone, was her sauces; sauces, she’d say with emphasis, are the secret to being a great cook. Celine didn’t . . .