When we move, we’ll be the same, just in a new place. Right?

When it rains, we get wet. Wet is wet, but it stands to reason that if moisture is picked up in the Gulf of Mexico, the water produced will be significantly different from the rain that was absorbed out in Casco Bay. I believe there is a real change in the way the rain feels.

True, I’ve never said this out loud. “What do you mean, nutcase, even the actual rain is different?” (I think it is, but let us keep this our little secret.) Soaking-wet can be Mobile, Alabama, hot-wet, or Portland, Maine, cold-wet, and no one will convince me that they feel exactly the same.

My wife and I have just moved from Mobile to Portland. We didn’t pack just raincoats and umbrellas, but also all our earthly possessions. There would be new walls on which to hang mirrors. Melissa and I have always had mirrors in rooms; it makes them appear larger and lends them character, and I believe they were hung more for decorative purposes than practical ones.

Mirror packing became required. Strangely, I began to catch myself for microseconds, looking for the mirror on the wall, which now was packed. I would hesitate a split-half-step.

As there became fewer mirrors hanging, I began to notice myself at odd moments stealing a glance at the empty spots where the “mirror formerly known as me” had hung. My reflection wasn’t there because the mirrors were gone, and in fact I became surprised to learn that I had been “checking in” to look at myself all along.

Now, one by one, room by room, normalcy was gone. I was gone. I was no longer a Mobilian.

“Who are you when you’re at home?” This is an old British question straight out of “music hall.” When asked, it suggests: “What are you like when you’re not displaying your public face?” or “What are you like when you are not so high and mighty?”

It also reveals that we know that our private face is perhaps genuine only when we’re just looking at ourselves at home. We secretly glance at our private face, and in a blink look away.

Almost accidentally (warding against the possibility of “bad luck”), one of our first acts upon arriving at our new Portland home was to hang up one of those carefully packed mirrors that had arrived after its trip. In its reflection, we were suddenly surrounded by pines, seagulls and snow, and needed to quickly adjust to the temperature change implied by being Down East in midwinter.

It seems to me, looking at ourselves in this mirror is to freshly recognize ourselves. We will, with luck, recognize who we are becoming.

We may never be “from here,” as one of our neighbors recently told me, but I do love seeing us in this new glass. The same, yet not the same.