Today was the day I realized that I did not know the man in the mirror.
He was about thirtyish, his too-long hair carelessly falling over his eyebrows. His eyes were gray, and the soul that could be seen through those windows was empty and broken.
His beard was ragged enough that you knew instantly that it was not grown from pride, but from neglect. His upper lip was lost under it; his lower lip betrayed its own neglect, displaying their chapped condition.
I stared at this figure for what seemed like an eternity. His bent shoulders and hunched back spoke volumes of what he's held inside.
That man had not laughed in months. Perhaps he had not laughed in years.
A wisp of wet hair fell into my eye and I sprang to action.
Opening my medicine cabinet, I sought my razor. It was still sharp after these months, and the light glanced off it as I set it to my right. I turned on the water and began to ready my face, warm water splashing onto the floor.
I began, slowly at first, judging carefully the length of my sideburns. Then I lost all inhibition and attacked, cutting giant swaths through the hair on my face, running my hand behind to catch stragglers.
Slowly, the man in the mirror became more familiar. His shoulders were set back in grim determination, but a fire had lit in his eye.
Faster I moved, occasionally pulling hairs out by their root in my zeal. Then I stopped for a moment to survey the damage.
The man in the mirror was no longer thirty. If each hair was a day, he could not have looked younger.
I grasped the razor again, and made a final attack. As the last hair fell away, defeated, the man in the mirror again became me. I smiled, and the old, beautiful wrinkles came back: the one that traces my smile, even when I frown; the one that winks next to my left eye; and the two that I always thought made me look "distinguished." All had come home to me.
I began to laugh, watching my face for the first time in months, reveling in the shear stupidity and splendor of my own countenance.
Again I turned the water on, this time as cold as I could. I splashed my face several times, holding my cold hands against my skin.
I found my aftershave sitting right where I left it. I lifted the bottle and removed the top, still smiling. I rubbed it all over my face, making sure to cover every inch of exposed skin below my nose and ears.
I looked at the man in the mirror again.
He was laughing.