The Mirror

The giant mirror stood in the upstairs hallway, propped up against the wall. I’m not sure when it first arrived at the farm. I had been looking into it as long as I can remember. My dad recalls looking into it as a kid, flexing his arms and fantasizing about the muscles he hoped to have. I did that too. But I also looked into it because it was a reminder that I existed through time, that there was some thread of self that connected Sara, age 5 with Sara, age 18 and Sara, age 29. I could look in that mirror and remember the many selves that had looked into it throughout my life.

Moving around a lot as a kid, I came to understand me not as a self, but as a series of selves, each one only existing in the place in which we were living at the time. Once we moved away, that Sara-self was gone, replaced by the next one. Aside from my parents and my sisters, the thing that connected my different selves was the farm. It had been in the family since the early 1900s, built by my great-grandparents Elias and Johanna Puotinen. I had visited it almost every summer. Even when the Hickory North Carolina Sara or the Salem Virginia Sara no longer existed, the farm Sara was always there, looking back at me in the giant mirror.

Since my parents sold the farm almost ten years ago, I haven’t returned to look into that mirror. I wonder, if I did look into it, could I still see farm Sara? Do I need that mirror to see her?