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  • I always think about how strange mirrors are. Without them, we could go our entire lives without ever really seeing ourselves. Every five second outfit check, every eyebrow pluck, every lip sync session would be done without a second thought of how ridiculous we must look. I like to think of mirrors as unseen snapshots of our lives, as if every mirror keeps an ongoing stock of every time it sees us, documenting our growth through funny faces in reflections.

    The first time I remember wearing a dress in front of the mirror was when I was around five or six. My mom had this silky, lace trimmed, red and white polka dot nightgown that was knee length on her, but well past my thin and fragile ankles. I can still vividly remember running the fabric over my body, silk always feels cold against the skin for some reason, and soft, always soft. I would twirl in front of the mirror and live for that moment when I could dwell in the skin of another gender just for a minute or two, just for fun, really. I wish I could go into the mirror's records to see the toothy grin on my face; I like to think that I had one on while I swished the fabric around my feet. It feels like it was a dream by now, maybe it was. I would give almost anything to get back to then.

    A desire to retreat to the land of dress up and animal crackers could easily be the cause that led me to my next encounter with a dress, a mirror, and a secret wig. I had gotten the wig for a friend when we were in a show together; she needed it for her costume. Soon after, though, I asked for it back, because I figured I had better use for it than she. My first real drag experience featured a pinned sheet, poorly rolled socks for breasts, and the aforementioned wig, a synthetic black bob made unruly simply by its existence. For some reason, though, looking in the mirror with red makeshift lipstick smudged on my teeth and hair sticking to my poorly penciled eyebrows, I felt beautiful. I felt confident, special, different. Jake faded into the background a bit; giving room to this loud and jumpy girlish energy that seemed to fill the entire room. I took an hour to play, then jumped in the shower to scrub myself back into a boy. That was it. I began painting my face every night, I only had a cheap party face paint kit, no real makeup, so that had to do. I fussed with my wig, twisted and pinned and tied my king sized sheet into one gown after another, feeling more and more beautiful the longer I practiced. Investments in real makeup followed soon after, along with an itching desire to buy a real dress from every thrift store I walked in to. A wish, I admit, that has still yet to be granted. I experimented with different methods, showing up to school with leftover eyeliner that I refused to comment on. Nobody was to know the fun I was having, it was my secret. Me and my mirror, who watched me cocoon myself, changing from a six year old in his mother's nightgown to a beautiful seventeen year old drag queen, secretly dressing himself and shading his lids just to play for a few hours before getting into the shower. My mirror must have more pictures than I do, more spins and stripteases than I can even remember doing. Two years worth of confidence boosts in the form of charcoal black and electric blue applied whilst singing favorites from La Cage Aux Folles.

    It's a strange sort of feeling, to be someone else for a night. It allows you to look at yourself differently the next morning, to see through another's eyes, even if the other person is imaginary. Merely a character. But, you know? I often don't feel that she is only a character. She has nestled herself into my soul, passing some of her boisterous confidence on to me, equipping me to better deal with my everyday problems. It's easy to forget about tomorrow's math test when you aren't even you. My female persona doesn't have a name yet. I'm convinced that I haven't experienced enough in my life to name her. I have to feel it, it has to hit me. Until then, you can find her at my address, 5 floors up, throwing fabric around some 17 year old boy's bathroom between the hours of midnight and one, replacing a polka dot nightgown with a pinned up sheet until she has the confidence to buy a dress, speaking sweet nothings to her mirror, pretending it's listening.
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