A Study of Faces
Lately I’ve been searching for my face in the faces of others. Do our noses slope and slant in the same ways? Do our cheeks follow the same curve? Do we have little freckles in the same places? Do our eyes resemble each others’ when we look to the side?
I’ve recently developed a desire to search for my own face in the crowd. My whole life, I’ve been decidedly one (1). Starting with a name that can be replaced by no other name, a face that could be many things (and so fails to be anything at all), and a disposition that is at once likeable and palatable, yet keeps a cold distance.
I’m not sure why I need to resemble something tangible. Maybe it is to tether me, to solidify my existence, a way for my eyes to confirm with my eyes that I, I exist and my face, my face looks like that when I smile or talk or laugh and it’s not all a distorted reflection. Maybe it is to patch up the holes that loneliness has left and to show that others, on a physical level, are like me and I like them. My name and my ambiguous faceless face have found partial homes in the reflections of a stranger’s mirror, inhabit large or small spaces in a web of lives I have never touched.
Searching for my floating reflection in others is like leaving a lasting legacy. A family, a weird one I’ve made, of girls and boys with cupid bows that dip like mine and eyes that hood like mine and teeth that overbite like mine. All to say that I have existed, I have marked this world, and glimmers of me will float around forever in the amalgam of human life. This is my opportunity to have 9 lives. I imagine what it would be like to inhabit a body that is materially familiar and internally wholly alien. What people do I know? What things do I like? Where did I start? Where will I end?
Where do I start and where do they end?
The pursuit of my own face is probably much simpler than I am making it. I long to see my face, objectively and with new eyes; I want to see myself in motion, like how I look bent over; I want to see myself from a distance and from close up; I want to see how I move when I think no one is watching. I want to see me to know me.
“Knowing myself” has begun to feel less empowering and more like a hyper- consciousness, a constant pulsing awareness of my corporeal existence. Knowing myself means wanting to see how different dynamics and scenes with my body play out. Knowing myself means wanting to appear instead of act. In this pursuit I have eclipsed all things that have made me me; it is solipsism and obstinance, it is a refusal to retrace and look back, but to be consumed with only the reflection before me.
I wish, above all, to inhabit a weightless place, where my body and my face dance along a screen at 16 frames a second and I am the sole onlooker in the theater, watching the movie of me roll on as I observe, passively from the last row, finally able to see myself through objective eyes.
Makee Anderson is a Filipinx-Norwegian teenager from Northern California. She loves reading as much as she loves writing, her chosen vehicle for exploring the complexities of identity and experience in today's world. She is currently on a gap year before beginning as a freshman at Duke University.