I saw Fidel Castro walking through a neighborhood in North Austin last night. He was wearing a green & white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up and dark pants that looked none too clean. He had on his funny little military cap and had a fat cigar clenched in his teeth. He was holding up a battered blue umbrella but the wind was blowing the rain sideways and his shirt was soaked through on one side so that it clung transparently to his wet chest. He paid no attention to me.
I highly doubt Fidel has sneaked into the U.S. and made his way to the wonderful world of Austin, Texas. This look-a-like was simply a weathered, graying Latino walking home in the rain who had no idea someone had noticed him, much less noticed him in detail. Which makes me wonder…what do people see when they look at me?
I think of myself as a young woman even though I’m in my late thirties. When I examine myself, it is more looking at my spirit and not my physical self. I see me as a young brunette, still chubbier than I should be, with fair skin and a pretty smile in a somewhat plain face. I always experience a momentary shock when I realize that the person in the bathroom mirror has laugh lines around her eyes and mouth and worry lines across her forehead. And the hair that I like to think is blonde highlights from all my time in the sun is actually gray, or more accurately, white.
Age is definitely a state of mind. I believe how you feel inside affects your wellbeing just as much as time passing affects the corporal body. I may be 38 in flesh and blood but I’m 26 in essence and attitude.
But what do people see when they look at me? We’re not as invisible as we like to believe. When I’m driving down the street I have no idea who may be on the sidewalk, watching me as I pass. When I’m walking up 6th Street on a mid-morning Starbucks run, laughing with co-workers, is a passing motorist scrutinizing me? Do I look happy? Content? Carefree? Do I look worn and tired? More importantly, can they get a sense of who I am from a six second glance? Do I smile more than frown?
My friends will chuckle as they read this post. They all know I tend to overanalyze the most mundane and unimportant things. But life, and it’s mysteries, fascinates me. And I hope that Fidel made it home safely last night, that he walked up his front steps and opened the door of his house, shaking the wet umbrella off before stepping into a brightly lit and happy place filled with the rich smell of carne guisada bubbling on the stove and tortillas warming, with a wife who, wiping her hands on a dish towel, reaches up to kiss him hello, not mindful of the raindrops at all.