I go to my favorite on-campus pizza place one last time before becoming an alumni. There is a long mirror in front of the people seated at the counter and as I wait, I stared into the mirror. The face is familiar but I take a quick inventory.
Hair. Since I've been wearing it short, I've stopped coloring it. I'm intrigued by the gray. I'm tempted to name the individual silver hairs: bad job, car accident, abusive boyfriend. Okay, he probably warrants that whole section up front. I may color it again tomorrow, but today I wear the gray like a medal.
The lines on my forehead no longer disappear within a couple of hours of waking up. The lines are fine and few but they weren't there two years ago. My eyes have also registered more small wrinkles. Still not bad, but I make a mental note to research Clinique eye creams.
I have to move closer to the mirror to see the faint lines around my mouth. I remember a line from a play I saw when DJ and I were dating: "They're called laugh lines but I have yet to figure out what's so goddamn funny." I closely examine my lips, wondering if I've started to develop the vertical wrinkles that will make wearing my beloved red lipstick a challenge. Nothing yet. I know that most wrinkles are genetic and are not, in fact, completely preventable. Still, I adhere to my mother's best beauty advice: Moisturize like it's a religious experience. I wonder about the efficacy of lip moisturizers and decide that the Avon Care Deeply lip balm I've used every day for the past 15 years will probably continue to do the trick.
My eyes travel down to my neck. I know my genetic stock and I know that a neck tuck is in my future. I'm okay with that. I sigh deeply. It could certainly be worse. I'm the oldest person in my cohort but I don't look it. Things seem to be holding together north of my shoulders, I think. The gray lends me gravitas, badly needed with my innate immaturity.
The elderly black man who's cooking my lunch (two slices, mushrooms-pepperoni-extra cheese) calls my name. He's worked here for as long as I've been coming here and we both share a passion for classic rock. We have been known to sing aloud with the Journey or Styx songs played on the classic rock station, to the consternation of the Korean owners. He hands me my pizza, congratulates me on my graduation, and as I start to walk out he calls, "Lookin' good, Mama!" I turn around, blow him a kiss, and walk out the door.
It could definitely be worse.