I didn’t clean the bathroom sink for a long time and it was filthy. Every time I looked at it, I felt disgusted with myself. I looked at the sink and then at my face in the mirror. The face I saw wasn’t mine. It was someone else’s. I said to that face, “You are a fat, ugly, lazy slob,” and I hated that face, that person in there, that me that wasn’t me.
Then, I got on an airplane to London. I walked around on the London streets, where many elegant people were hurrying to their jobs. I was shabbily dressed, with my folded-up Google Maps directions to guide me. The people walked swiftly past me, and I thought about how smart they looked, in their business suits. I have never owned such formal clothes, or worked a fancy nine to five job. But the London people probably had bathroom sinks, too, and ghosts of their own they saw in their mirrors.
I went back to my little room at the hotel. The little room had not one but two mirrors. I looked in neither of them. Who, after all, can trust a mirror in a country where the people talk funny and drive on the wrong side of the road? But the whole room was clean–the bathroom, the towels, and the bed. I slept.
I got on an airplane and came home to find the same mess that I’d left behind: dishes in the kitchen, papers everywhere, and three weeks’ worth of laundry to do. I went to take a shower and saw my demon, the bathroom sink, that looked as filthy as it ever had been, ever.
I didn’t have to look in the mirror. I knew that the person I’d see in there still wasn’t me. But it didn’t matter anymore whether I hated her or not because the bathroom mirror was steamed up from the shower. I knew then what I had to do. I found some Ajax and a couple of paper towels. I thought it would take hours, but it took only a minute or two. I cleaned the bathroom sink.