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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Family resemblance

It doesn't occur to me that often that I resemble my family. When asked, I remember that Katie and I have the same smile, and the same body movements. I know I share skinny little chicken legs with my dad, but I don't know what else.

Once in college, a girl on my floor told me my mom had been by to see me earlier, when I was out. I asked how she knew the woman was my mother, and my friend said, "She walked like you." And though I had never given much thought to my gait, I knew instantly the stride she was talking about, for it was a characteristic very much my mother.

This week, I was in a restaurant restroom, washing my hands after lunch, and I looked in the mirror. Coming off an overnight at the shelter, I was tired, and I sighed deeply and ran my hand across my face. Immediately I saw my mother's face looking back at me. I think the hand gesture was her as well, and that's what caught my eye, but I looked so much like her, more than I've ever realized.

I don't think we ever know what we truly look like except in relation to others. And my measurement has always been "not." Not dark haired like my dad and sister. Not tall like my parents. It takes a whole reconfiguration of my consciousness to think of myself as looking like my mother.



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