Stranger in the house

A strange woman keeps invading my house. I catch a glimpse of her every morning and let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight.

She’s older than me—way older. Crinkles highlight her eyes, and lines extend like vertical blinds from the corners of her mouth to her cheeks.

Sometimes, the soft skin below each eye billows like teeny clouds. Other days, the clouds give way to shadows.

There is gray—seems like more every time I see her. Streams of gray wind through the roots of her otherwise brownish-blonde hair. Flecks of silver thread in and around her eyebrows in a determined attempt to overthrow what’s left of the brown.

Therein lies a color contradiction. Where she wishes for dark, there is light. Where she wishes for light, there is dark—as in spots. There is a small spot on the rise of a cheekbone, another below the temple, and more to come. She is sure of it. All just dark enough to announce their presence to friends, relatives, and acquaintances.

A mixture of tiny brown freckles and white spots dots her tanned arms and legs like pebbles along a creek bed. And I can just make out the beginnings of a triple-strand of creases forming a not so stylish choker round her neck.

This woman—this woman that won’t leave my house—has some serious problems to be sure. Plus, she’s kind of like a ghost. She only materializes in our mirrors.

If she were welcome in my home, I could give her some tips to help her battle her external issues. If she didn’t startle me every time she came around, I’d take time to say, “Hey, you could hide those eye crinkles with a cool pair of fake eyeglasses.”

I’d tell her that people can only see her vertical blind-lines when she smiles. But I have a feeling that her smile is spontaneous. She probably smiles a lot—kind of like me.

Something tells me that she doesn’t know about all the products designed to cover grays. There are lots of brands of powder-based root touch-ups, not to mention “Spray the Gray Away.”

OK. It’s not really called “Spray the Gray Away,” but that is what it does. Works great—if aimed in the right direction. If not, well, the color sticks like superglue to facial skin.

If she didn’t give me the heebie-jeebies, I’d tell the stranger about a mighty weapon called “concealer.” A dab here and a buff there and those age spots fade away—at least for a few hours.

For the not so stylish and most unwanted choker necklace, there are always turtleneck shirts and sweaters. But a turtleneck in summer is not a cool idea.

I said that the woman is a stranger, but I have to admit there is an air of familiarity about her. Is she a distant cousin who has broken into my house to terrorize me? Or, have I been thrown into the worst of reality situations—a living thriller?

Sometimes, when her face shows up in my mirror first thing in the morning, I get a funny feeling that I know her or, worse, that this woman knows—I mean, really knows—me.

But, before she can take hold, I shout—out loud: “I don’t know who are, but get out of my mirror and leave this house! Now!”

Then, I reach way down inside to the depths of my heart, and I pull out the 40-year-old me, the real me. She’s the girl who bikes, plays tennis, hikes in the mountains, and runs across the beach.

When I do that, the stranger disappears—at least for a while.

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