You'd hoped, by now, that the hallways you'd always imagined constitute the inner workings of your mind wouldn’t look like a Warsaw Ghetto. You'd hoped the bags under your eyes were from sleeplessness and the wrinkles in your forehead were from the sheets. They aren’t.
You understand that from childhood into puberty, there are changes. You stretch out, split your skin and grow.
After that, you might expect to gain some weight in college. At least, the years you should be in college. You're changing.
Then, you wake up in your twenties and you don't see where your hairline has gone or when the creases started to form in your forehead or the corners of your mouth. You don't know when the twinkle of childhood fantasy left your face. You're changing.
But there you are in the mirror, and that's you and that's your face.
Some changes are insidious.
Some are not these vain observations you think you're watching every morning when you're brushing your teeth.
Some are nested deep down inside you. Some changes will take you by surprise.
Some changes happen in others.
Sometimes it's hard to tell.
But you wake up and you shine over that thousand dollar smile. Hundred. That smile. You adjust a collar, a tie, a button in the mirror, but every day it's like painting the door on an empty house.
You reflect outside for some time, in the swirling tendrils and motes and smoke. There's a feeling that's forged only from the residue of sleep and dreams, and it's a bittersweet elixir, but it's peaceful. The problem is that it's not enduring, it fades, and you have to leave again.
You stand inside the closed door of your house, waiting to go out. Waiting to catch your breath, waiting for your heart to hint that it's still beating, alive in you somewhere.
You're standing on the tile in your tied shoes, and you can't muster the energy to move, but a guilty conscience will move you over the roads.
Your travels are guided only by your ability to avoid the hazards in your periphery.
You'll strain a smile over the kitschy keychains around the register when you buy your coffee, and you'll drive. The distant magnetism of responsibility will guide you safely to the next space.
The fiery orange genesis of sunrise will squint your eyes against the horizon, and you'll arrive.
You always do.
You'll tell yourself how much you've seen with your head down.
You'll tell yourself you're not out of roads.
You'll tell yourself you'll do better tomorrow.