Time Triptych Memoir - Inspired By "the Face"

The Time Triptych Memoir is inspired by a series of collections titled "The Face", where each author studies one's own face for a set amount of time.
The Face - a time code by Ruth Ozeki
"The Face" by Ruth Ozeki

The "Time Triptych Memoir" is inspired by a memoir titled The Face printed and bound together from Restless Books, written by Ruth Ozeki as she was inspired by a previous face-inspired collection from various authors.

Each author gives a unique perspective from their view of looking and studying one face for a set amount of time. They think about the face in the form of the present, past, and future. Here is my take: 


Fresh out of the shower, hair still damp, no makeup on. I’m pale. I look almost ghostly. I flush red with every tiny ounce of embarrassment. Faint brown freckles cover my forehead, nose, and cheeks with no pattern at all, as if someone took a paint-filled brush and splattered it across the canvas I call my face.

They stand out in the summertime, but I’ve gotten so used to them, I don’t even see them unless I try. The more I look at my freckles, the more I actually like them, and wonder why I always cover them up with makeup. It’s the most perfect of imperfections I have on my face. Why do I go straight to the negative, critiquing myself, wishing what was different? 

Yikes. I haven’t gotten my eyebrows done in forever. I’ve always hated my eyebrows but loved my eyes. They’re too blonde for the dark brown of my natural roots. Thin, some hairs even curly, bending in the wrong direction causing my OCD to pull them out.

My eyes would be my favorite feature, besides my lips. They are the lightest shade of blue, always causing me to tear up in the sunlight, easily getting red when I’m on drugs. Isn’t it weird we’ve never seen our own eyes in person? It’s always a reflection looking back at us. I’m most in love with the feature I’ve never seen. 

At 21 years old I feel like I already had my ‘going-out’ stage. I had a fake ID at 16 and went to the clubs downtown with my girls. I woke up hungover and greasy. Now I look in the mirror most mornings grateful for my clear skin, using my fingertips to spread creams under my eyes and across my cheeks. I don’t cover up my freckles as much. I’m learning to love myself as I am. 


When I started to get into make up I was in seventh grade, experimenting with eyeshadow and lipsticks. My middle school best friend always wore a light shade of dusty blue over her green eyes.

She was quirky, she pulled it off, but to this day I just can’t wear blue makeup. I see her in it, I see our failed friendship, my selfish mistakes. When I was in 10th grade I cut my hair right below my chin. Someone in the halls said I dressed and looked like a mom. I stopped wearing my mother's clothes, and she asked me “why is what he said a bad thing?” 

When I was in 11th grade, I studied abroad in the United Kingdom. The girls at my sixth form school all looked the same: Fake tanned, bronzed faces, straight silky hair. I felt so American, so young, and ugly. As I befriended them, they did my makeup, taught me how to contour. I posted pictures and got more attention than I ever had before. For the first time, I felt different. And I felt pretty. 

The month of my return home in January, I wore a full face of foundation, powder, bronzer, and blush. My mother asked me, “Is this how much makeup you wear every day now?” I replied, “No, not all the time.” But it was. It still is. She would pull my hair back into a fake ponytail. “Look at you though, you’re so beautiful. Why do you have to hide?” 

But I looked at makeup as an art. It highlighted my favorite features and fixed the ones I wasn’t happy with. Darkening my eyebrows to match my roots, picking a darker shade of concealer to match my tan.

I spent hours in front of the makeshift vanity of my desk, mirror, and lamp. It was calming, in the same way, you stroke a paintbrush. I was painting my face. I was turning into someone I didn’t use to be. 


When I am old I imagine my face will be pruned, wrinkled like a raisin. My grandmother has so many lines across her face I cannot count them, but they blanket her face like the comfort I’ve always known.

My mother never wore makeup, only a dabbled of Clinique lipstick in the lightest shade of berry red. When she looks in the mirror, she pulls some skin back, seeing the alternate version of herself, the version society says she should be.

Younger, wrinkle-free, skin tight. I still don’t understand how someone who cares so little about her image would get caught up in something like that. My mother’s soul is so beautiful she never needed to worry about the outside because she was so occupied worrying about others.

My grandmother, skin worn down from too many days under the country sun tending her stables with her seven children. Their skin shows the fullness of the lives they lived- too busy and too full of love to care for. 

When I am old I hope to look just like them. All the years I’ve spent trying to change my face with lip plumpers, tweezers, and masks, I wonder if my mother felt like I was trying to get away from them.

When my face changed, did I change? Gold shadow made my eyes brighter, so I could catch the attention of guys and jealous looks from girls. How much of it was for me? How come I felt the most confident about myself when I was the furthest away from my true form?

The older me, at age 53, like my mother, won’t wear makeup every day because she’ll have children who will think she’s so beautiful in her natural state. She’ll want to show them she feels beautiful in her natural state.

Her children will see their grandmother, and her face now looks like a raisin, and it will bring them so much comfort. I hope, and I know, I’ll need her every step of the way and the kids will see her as another mom, probably a lot better one than me. 

I will look at their young faces full of dreams and ambitions. I will look at them when I drive them home from school and a boy tells them they don’t dress like the other kids. I will push their hair back and tell them how beautiful they are.

Ruth Ozeki - Author of The Face
Ruth Ozeki - Author of The Face
Just a girl living in the city, writing, and loving my friends, family, and cats.

No Saves yet. Share it with your friends.

Write Your Diary

Get Free Access To Our Publishing Resources

Independent creators, thought-leaders, experts and individuals with unique perspectives use our free publishing tools to express themselves and create new ideas.

Start Writing