“Mom, why are you making that face?” he asked. I detected a note of worry in his voice. I was yanked up out of my dark thoughts and into the bright light of the moment. I stopped what I was doing and looked up.
My five-year-old was sitting at the breakfast bar eating a piece of toast. A circle of crumbs and jelly outlined his mouth. I wanted to lean across the counter and kiss away the crumbs. He was watching me wipe down the kitchen counter and load the dishwasher and attend to 99 other things I wasn’t even aware I was doing.
I had no idea I was making a face. I was engrossed in reliving some old hurt. I was playing the starring role in my own long-gone drama. I was totally oblivious that I was even in my kitchen until Sean asked me why I was making that face, a face that he found troubling. It was like one of those moments when you put your car in park and turn off the engine and then it occurs to you that you don’t even remember driving there. You have no idea how you got there.
I stopped wiping the counter. I looked at him and cocked my head. “What face?” I asked, “What are you talking about?”
“You are making your mouth in a line, like this — ” And then he pressed his lips together, the upper and lower disappearing into a straight white line. His mouth looked like the capital letter I on its side. It was cute they way he did it.
“And your eyes are curly,” he added.
He nodded. He narrowed his eyes into slits and then peered at me through a ruffle of long dark eye lashes.
I sighed. I recognized that face. I was busted.
“What were you thinking about?” he asked, concerned.
“Oh nothing. I don’t even know,” I lied. I knew what I was thinking about. I just didn’t know why. Why would a reasonable person dwell in a long ago moment of hurt instead of a current moment of joy, where there is a boy within arms reach, with jelly on his face?
I went into the bathroom, looked into the mirror, and made the face. The capital letter I on its side and curly eyes stared back at me. No wonder his little heart was troubled.
By this time next year, I will be 50. I have an age spot in the shape of Illinois on the side of my face and a growing flock of crow’s feet. Except for the scalpel, there’s not much to be done about the effects of the past 49 years. Except to resolve to dwell in the present.