Finding Myself at the Library

By , February 10, 2016

Ever since we moved to the homestead, our public library has become a vital aspect of our lives. In the past, I’ve outlined some of the many ways we depend on it (see The Haines Public Library: Community Center, Cultural Hub, Haven). There’s an additional feature of our local library I never mentioned before on the blog. I don’t talk about it with anyone other than family, and we don’t mention it much to each other, but we all rely on it and appreciate it now and then.

We don’t have a lot of mirrors in our home. For years, we only had a small medicine cabinet mirror in Aly’s room, which we found in place when we moved here, and a small framed mirror less than 5″ square near the piano. Recently, Michelle brought home a somewhat larger mirror that she had at her office; she hung it in our bedroom. None of these gets enough light to offer more than a dim reflection now and then. Since we have no bathrooms per se (see Doing What’s Necessary: The Outhouse “Facilities”) we fell out the habit of seeing the unavoidable reflections while using the bathroom sink in most homes.

This doesn’t bother us much. We see ourselves well enough to comb our hair out after a shower, or check it before going to town, but not much else. I use a fog-free mirror to shave, another tiny mirror that suffers from poor lighting. We get by.

But, if we go to the library, and use the restrooms there, everything changes! Each restroom has a huge, well lit mirror running the full length of a spacious double sink counter.

I’m a bit embarrassed to describe the surprise I feel, walking into such a place. I stand somewhat transfixed, examining the vaguely familiar person before me, someone I know well, but, honestly, haven’t seen much lately. Imagine what this must be like for us. We only really see ourselves well once or twice a month on average! In between viewings, hair grows, beards grow, both turn grayer. It’s kind of exciting to see the changes that have happened since our last “viewing”. And the clothes! I’m still inordinately pleased when I get a chance to see how my “new” coat looks on me, two years and more since I got it.

Checking our reflections must not be a big deal for us. If it were, I’d surely have made space for a big mirror somewhere in the cabin, and wired up adequate lighting for it. That hasn’t happened, and likely never will. But, I appreciate a chance to see what I look like now and then, when I find myself at the library.

4 Responses to “Finding Myself at the Library”

  1. angie says:

    Mark, I once sublet my New York apartment to friends, newly married. They looked around and said, “Uhhh, you don’t have a mirror…?” (This was hot on the heels of, “Uhhh, you don’t have a TV…?”) I had never thought about it, but the only mirror I had was the one on the medicine cabinet. When they moved out, they left me a cheap full-length mirror “because you need one.” The damn thing kept surprising me every time I walked into the bedroom and turned on the light. I think I finally took it down.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Angie, you just revealed a long forgotten memory from my childhood. When we visited my grandparents, someone (probably Grandpa) would send me on some small errand to the master bedroom to look behind the closet door, where I would be confronted with a full length reflection of myself in the mirror there. I seem to recall falling for that more than once.

    I’m sure I could manage to pay a psychiatrist a hell of a lot of money to help me understand that little episode, were I so inclined . . . .

  3. angie says:

    Perhaps it explains your aversion to full-length mirrors as an adult?

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    We’ll ask my therapist!

    Actually, I don’t think I have an aversion to them, I just haven’t gotten around to getting one. For over 10 years….

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