jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


The woman gets on the train and sits directly in front of me. She is somewhere in her thirties, dressed neither in hipster-wear or corporate drag, she is somewhere in between. Her hair is roughly pushed back, loose waves, unbrushed. Her feet turn in just a little, her stylishly unstylish shoes scuffed a bit, they are from last year. I don’t think she was ever beautiful, she might have been pretty when she was younger, now there are lines as her face gets heavier, coarser, acts as the prow of her days.

She clasps her hands on top of the bag in her lap, and her hands are unadorned with blunt finger tips, strong veins, long fingers. She is smiling, something has amused her and she is in her own world, not meeting anyone’s eyes, not looking around. I am so pleased to see her, I think, she could be me, this is a mirror. Then I watch as her face changes, what amused her fades away, her face hardens, the lines deepen, and I feel a tiny betrayal, a little panic even, as she turns out her light and folds in on herself.


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