“You are so smart. And beautiful.” a woman in the locker room at the gym said, after admiring my knit arm-warmers. I stood there half-dressed, pink from showering. My hair was still dripping, uncombed and unruly. I looked like a drowned rat. But I thanked the stranger anyway like I was thrilled she’d noticed. Maybe I appeared needy, like I could use a compliment, some attention, a hug, or a gift. Even my sister had recently sent me, for no apparent reason, a Heated-Seat Cushion tushie-warmer to put in my car.
That evening, when I couldn’t find anyone to go to a restaurant or movie with, I ended up at the mall, at the BonTon Department Store’s cosmetics department.
“I need iridescent white eye shadow, please. On Facebook, someone suggested dabbing a bit of white eye shadow on inner lids for lovelier, livelier eyes,” I said, not able to remember when I’d last worn makeup. With kids there had never been enough time to put on makeup. And makeup seemed senseless during the almost three years in and out of hospitals with my daughter’s cancer. After that, hardly a day went by that I didn’t cry my eyes bloodshot. Now, almost four years since my daughter’s death, my eyes looked worn out and red.
“That’s not white enough. It has to be shiny, opalescent, silvery like a pearl. You know. EER-uh-DES-int,” I said.
“Can we give you a makeover?” the Clinique and Lancome counter managers begged. I asked for a rain check. More snow was coming and I didn’t intend to stay long. But there were few shoppers and the managers all knew my son. So I got a lot of attention. Soon my upper lids glimmered with sparks of lustrous Grandest Gold and frosty Bit O’Honey. For contrast we penciled my lower lids with tiny dashes of distressed Moss.
I walked out into the cold, smiling with shimmering eyes, Super Strawberry Chubby-Stick glossed lips, and a free Gift Bag of tiny cosmetics samples. Why do I get excited about these things, I wondered? And how come I finally feel beautiful now?
I took my lively eyes to Wegmans to buy storm food. And then there was nowhere to go but home. Pulling into the driveway, I noticed the almost-full moon dazzling its way through the haze of a snowy sky. For ten minutes or more I sat on the tushie-warmer in my car, in the driveway, with my iridescent eyes glued on the moon beyond the towering piles of snow, in a blissful appreciation of all the surrounding beauty.
In these cold dark days what do you find beautiful?