Saturday, 24 January 2009 - 10:51 am


I just went into the restroom to see if there was anything useful in there for us to take.  We’re leaving the hospital soon.  I hadn’t been in there before; with no running water, bathrooms tend to be pretty disgusting. 

It’s the first time I’ve seen my reflection in a long time – in a month, I guess.  The bomb shattered all of the glass in the city and the windows here haven’t fared much better; it was difficult for so long that I stopped looking for reflective surfaces.  It’s strange – I was so used to looking at myself every morning, making sure that I looked good enough for human consumption, putting on make up, adjusting my hair. But I haven’t even missed it; there hasn’t been time.  With everything that has happened, with the strangeness of the world now, all of those habits seem like they belonged to a different person who lived a millennia ago.  Now, I barely recognise myself.

Of course, everything about me is grubby.  I took changes of clothes from the last store we raided, but I’ve worn everything at least once now, if not three times.  There’s a tear on the sleeve of this shirt that I hadn’t noticed before.  I used to care about what I wore, how I looked, how other people would see me, being as perfect and well-turned-out as possible.  I haven’t been able to worry about that for so long that all I can see now is the practicalities: jeans that are wearing well, a shirt that covers the important bits, and boots that aren’t broken yet.

I pulled the shirt up and took a look at the tattoo on my back.  It’s beautiful; Steve did a good job.  I can’t believe how big it is, rising up my spine and spreading wings across my shoulderblades.  I can’t believe that it has been behind me this whole time.  It feels like it grew out of this last month, out of the falling down and the picking back up again.  Then I remember how much it hurt and realise that yes, Steve really did do the whole thing in one torturously long session.  But it was worth it.  It’s the brightest part of me, possibly because it’s the cleanest.  It’s a  shame that it spends its time under a shirt, really.

The tattoo isn’t the only way that I look different now.  I’m leaner.  My clothes are loose where they used to be snug, but I had thought that they’d just stretched.  I didn’t think much of having to notch my belt tighter lately, but now that I look at myself, I’ve definitely lost weight.  I’ve wanted to lose a bit of extra weight for years, and now it’s gone, disappeared while I wasn’t paying attention.  And I feel good about that.

It seems that the end of the world is the diet that really works.  I could make a fortune with that, if money was worth anything any more.

Even my face seems slimmer; it’s missing some of its softness.  Maybe that’s the lack of makeup speaking.  I caught the sun on my nose – it’s peeling now.  Even with the orange scorch across the sky, enough of the sun’s light sneaks through to burn, it seems.  I’m certainly more tanned than I used to be.

My hair is a mess.  Oddly, it’s not feeling as disgusting as it was a week ago.  It has been lank and gross, but it seems to be losing the greasiness now.  I wish that I could wash it, even if it seems to need it less now.  There are still random red streaks in it, from a whim of a dye job  I did right after I found out about Cody and Bree.  That was a couple of months ago – can it really be that long?  They’re growing out now, dark roots showing, returning to my own colours.

I don’t look great and there was a time when I would be mortified about that.  But I don’t look terrible either.  There are things that I like, and things I’m willing to put up with.  The rest just doesn’t seem to matter that much, though there’s still a part of me that wishes I could be better.  I guess I can’t let go of that desire completely, and I succumbed  to it enough to dig out eyeliner and a hairbrush from my bag. I didn’t look like I used to, but I felt more like me.

There’s definitely something different about my face.  Maybe it’s just that I haven’t looked at it in so long.  Maybe it’s that I haven’t had to look myself in the eye.  Maybe it’s this reflection on myself that I’ve been doing, here in this journal-blog, these things I’m discovering about myself.  Maybe they’re creeping out into the mirror, into the rest of me. 

Maybe it wasn’t just in my face.  I tried to work out what else was different, what there was other than the dirt and the weight. Maybe it’s the set of my shoulders.  I seem straighter than I used to be, like I’m standing taller.  It’s not the heels on these boots – I’ve worn much bigger heels before and not felt anywhere near this tall.  Maybe it’s because I have a purpose now.  Maybe it’s because I have a place here, with these people.  Maybe it’s because, for the first time in my life, I feel more like an adult and less like a child, waiting for someone else’s opinion and direction.  And approval.

Whatever it is, I feel better.  I feel okay.  For the first time in my life, I feel like I can look myself in the eye and not flinch.