Imprints of Happiness

There is one thing in particular about cosmetics I don’t understand. While I’m sure there are many procedures I’d find peculiar or unnecessary, there’s one on my mind that boggles me. I’ve often wondered why smile lines are thought of to be unattractive to the point of people wanting to remove them.

Why of all things are smile lines targeted at all. They are literal imprints of happiness etched into your face, meant to stay as a reminder for not only how much you’ve smiled throughout your life, but how strong your smile was that your muscles and skin stuck that way.

Think of your first smile, likely when you were an infant, and it was a mere toothless giggle filled grin. Can you imagine the amount of time spent by others to get you to replicate such a smile. Silly faces, noises, and games just to get that perfect giggly grin on your face.

Now fast forward a few years to your first day of school where you clutch your mother’s hand as you walk down the hall. When you reach your classroom and your teacher looks at you, you lose it, turning back to her and begging to go home because you’re scared of the unfamiliar place. She squeezes your hand and musters up a goofy smile to get your lips to quirk up. When they do, she bends down, wipes your tears, and reassures you she’ll be back before you have the chance to miss her. With one final embrace, she sends you inside and waves from the doorway as you wander up to a little boy playing with large colored blocks, trying to build a massive fort.

Try some years later, in elementary school. The boy you met on your first day has followed you there, ending up in your class. You find him on the first day and sit next to him, only to find him crying. When you ask what’s wrong he tells you he and his family are moving away in a month. Your eyes widen and you choke back tears of your own as you try to reassure him. You’ll keep in touch and visit you say when in your mind the countdown has already started. A month blurs by and you see the moving vans and piles of boxes. You run outside to meet him, hug him one last time and sneak in a peck on the cheek before he leaves. Tears stream down your face as you watch the vans leave while he and his family trail behind them.

Months drag on and the tears stop flowing as much. Calls become fewer and farther in between, and you make new friends. The void closes day by day, or at least draws back to the depths of your mind. You learn to smile and laugh with your friends as life carries on. His favorite places and songs are still heavy on your shoulders, but you learn to cherish memories.

Years pass by, and you’re grown and on your own. You’ve developed a routine, going to the same places, doing your work, and getting by day to day. Life has dulled into robotics, and you no longer think about it. A simple day at the grocery store. You check out with your household staples, and listen to the series of beeps as you watch the list of items grow. The cashier is quiet and only when he tells you the total does recognition spark. Somewhere, deep within the recesses of your mind, the voice registers, and your head pops up. Your eyes search his face and settle on his. His eyes widen and he offers a smile. You recognize the small gap between his front teeth and tears streak your cheeks. It takes him a moment longer, but when he sees your teary eyed grin, his face splits with the power of his own toothy smile.

You make extra trips to see him until a mutual day off falls on the calendar. You spend the entire day catching up, remembering old times, cherishing every moment. Your old, familiar grin is back now. Days and nights pass, most spent together while your connection deepens. Months of dating bring you closer than you’ve ever been and when he lowers himself on one knee, you answer yes before he finishes the question. Kisses and happy tears lead you to your wedding. White gown, beloved groom, and all, you walk the aisle and join your lives and your biggest smile to date etches itself in your memory.

Months later, after so much trying, you get a positive. Both of you prepare the perfect nursery for the new addition, only to have it shattered by an accident. A drunk drive veers into your lane and collides with your car. Your injuries are too much for the baby to make it, and while you recover, your heart doesn’t. Your husband promises everything will be okay, but your broken heart won’t believe him.

Fresh tears wash your smile away, and you don’t see it again until he brings adoption papers home. Hope lifts your lips and you go through the procedures, paperwork, waiting periods, and the mountains of nerves until you receive the call. When you arrive, a freckle faced little girl with a worn teddy bear hides until you’re introduced. You’re taken back to your first day of school. Instincts spawned from distant memories take over, and you reach your hand for her. When she takes it, you make the silliest face you can, and she giggles.

You take your daughter home and the cycle replays.

Life’s wonders and stresses age you and your husband to silver hair and wizened skin. Lines and wrinkles form on your brow and around your mouth. You fear the best years have passed, and you think maybe if you can regain a youthful look, you can somehow duplicate those blissful years of your youth.

You look into procedures to reverse time, but your husband sits you down. He tells you he wouldn’t change the way you look for all the money in the world. He sweeps stray locks from your face and kisses you with all the passion of his younger years. You look in the mirror and trace each line, counting the memories that formed them.

After everything life has thrown at you, from a broken heart to a dull routine to a shattered soul. Even in the worst of times, you’ve made it through and found your way back to your smile. You count of each toothy, crooked grin, passion filled kiss, and moment spent with your beloved family. As you trace the last curve around your mouth, you can’t help but smile once more because you’ve realized that despite life’s twists, your body has etched imprints of happiness to last forever. Your body is lived in, and you wouldn’t alter one line if it meant staying young for the rest of time.

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