My mother’s lipsticks are pale browns and creams, so different from mine. We could never understand each other’s make-up. They have names like “nude”, “dusty plum”, “clandestine”, and one sleek glossy Chanel tube which I can’t even figure out how to open, simply “wine”. Ah- there it is, I press the gold square at the bottom of the tube, and a stick of solid brownish grease pops out. Her lipsticks are well-worn, the “nude” only a pale flat disc at the bottom of the tube. Again, so different from me- I can’t remember ever having actually finished a lipstick. Mine get old, broken or lost long before they finish. Her make-up is scattered amongst photos- look- there is one of me, wearing a grey cardigan with a faux-fur collar, once my pride and joy. I am in the first apartment we had after I married, standing behind a computer chair in our single bedroom, holding on to it, and looking down. I am fairly heavily made-up, my skin as white as a geisha, my lips scarlet, I think it was a birthday or something, and I can remember my mother complaining about the thickness of my eye-liner in that particular photo. We always talk a lot about make-up, sometimes approving each other, more often not.

I remember in middle school, we had a writing exercise for school where we had to describe our bedroom. As I look around my parents’ bedroom, I think I would go mad if I ever tried to do that particular exercise here, and I am not even forty, though I will be very, very, very soon. This upsets my children and I think that is adorable. I cannot even get past the dressing table. The air is particularly still and silent in my parents’ bedroom, due to their deep hatred of air-conditioners. I turn and silently leave the empty room, already a ghost of the past.


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