There was a long line at the post office and I had several packages to assemble and address and whatnot, so I was standing in the lobby for quite a while watching other people come in and out and move through the line with their envelopes. I couldn’t help sort of staring at this one girl. She was wearing bright red eyeliner both above and below her eyes. She looked freakish to me, all bloodshot and bulging and painful, like she’d been crying and smoking and not sleeping for weeks on end. But this was a conscious decision. She decided to do that to her eyes, to make that fashion statement, decided that it looked good, decided that was how she wanted to present herself to the world. I don’t even understand why there is such a thing as red eyeliner, but the experience of noticing this girl made it, again, clear to me that my perception of beauty is my own and not necessarily shared by all. Philosophically, I’d like to believe that there are some universals in the question of what’s beautiful, but life would be boring if all opinions were universally shared, so I’m grateful to the girl with red eyes and all her kin in the world for their power to surprise me and get me thinking.
red circleOriginally uploaded by yellowlensI was walking the dog, first thing this morning. I waited and watched the traffic while she sniffed around in the leaves. My breath clouded the air. A schoolbus drove by. As it went over a bump in the road, one of its tail-light covers came flying off and rolled and clattered down the pavement. A string of cars came behind the bus, spinning the red circle of plastic around and around until it settled beside the curb. After all the cars went by and the road was clear, I crossed over and picked up the circle. Now it’s sitting in my kitchen window, sharing the sunlight with the houseplants–my memento of one of life’s small moments.
It has taken me an outrageously long time to write this annotation. But here it is. I’m done. Sometimes it’s harder to write about the books that you love than about the ones you hated, even though it feels like it should be easy breezy.
Autobiography of Red annotation—On Endings