Every mirror in my house has its own story. The one over the sofa table (horizontal once, now vertical) used to hang behind my family's couch and before that, my maternal grandmother's who grew bored with it. Cradled in a gilt baroque Florentine style frame, although it has a few scratches and in some spots the gold is worn, it is quite lovely. In spite of its ornateness, it's because of the silver pool in its center, also simple, and lends itself to an airiness in the room.
Directly across it, so they reflect each other, is the centerpiece of the living room; a giant sofit chimney, over a built in mirror, over an illusion mantle, then fireplace. Gazing into one, you can see the back of your head in the other.
I barely look into either.
The house was designed by an architect for himself and his family and in its style has a strange dichotomy, From outdoors, it looks smaller than it is and somewhat like a fairytale cottage but when you step inside, you see an entirely modern contemporary design with many sharp angles, bright wide skylights and narrow floor to ceiling casement windows which are filled with scenery from the woods all around them.
People have remarked about my stained glass windows in the summer and I have explained more than once that they are clear and what they're actually looking at is the bright leaves of the trees close by. The view is breathtaking and a gift I will always cherish even when this house is sold and I never see it again.
There's a stand-alone oval Victorian revival mirror framed in cherry, that my brother Donny was thrilled to buy me as as surprise but forgot to give me for two years. That he thought of me was the real treasure especially since when it was brought into the house, my husband broke the stand itself and hasn't seen fit in nearly 7 years to attempt to fix it.
Nothing that breaks in this house ever gets fixed unless I take it upon myself to take command and I haven't had the heart for so long so it's beginning to look like the slowly decaying mansion in Great Expectations. Not exactly left at the altar, I, but sorta kinda in a way, yes. Dreams not lost, almost, but only, thankfully deferred.
The last two mirrors of note are twins which came to America from Italy with my paternal Italian grandparents. They are the most ornate in deep dark walnut carved lovingly with giant roses and part of an 8 piece bedroom suite. The silver has long since tarnished and the cost of replacement or refurbishing is prohibitive but I am content to just have them reflect the light that pours into the room from those blessed skylights and windows scattered throughout.
I don't often look into them either.
People tend to look at me and in sizing me up often assume I am superficial. I tend to joke that I am but only, like those mirrors, on the surface. I am surrounded and steeped in beauty everywhere I look but it took me many years not so much to own my own, but to believe anyone else knew it. I studied what I saw reflected in those mirrors and many before them and wondered why not, but I was only fooling myself.
As with the mirrors reflecting mirrors in the living room, I was so distracted trying to catch the image of the back of my head that I never believed what I thought I did. I was indeed beautiful but didn't think what was was beneath the surface was as well, or was worth it, so how could anyone else?
It took a lot of heartache to see that while I had my own light, in order to attract it, I had to reflect it and stop hiding in the dark.
And so I stepped away from the surface and stepped out into the light.