I saw my mother in a bathroom mirror in Madison, Wisconsin. The bar was called Mickey's Pub and it was filled with people I almost knew. Madison was like that. It was almost a place I'd been before, almost a place I'd seen out of the corner of my eye, filled with people who were not quite the people they seemed to be.
It was the first time I'd seen the face to match the gray hairs that have been sneaking their way in with the black. (I used to say, adamantly, brown, because I envied what I thought of as true black hair, but no one else has ever made that distinction.) It was an old face, puffy and tired.
And I knew that it would fade in a moment, a trick of bad sleep and worse lighting. No one looks good in a bar bathroom. But it haunts me, still, my mother's sad mouth in the mirror, like a bad fortune. This is the face I will wear. This is the woman I will become.