(photo: Is that what you see when you look at me?)
An old friend of my daughter’s showed up at our door a few minutes ago. They were best friends when they were in preschool and have kept up over the years, despite going to different schools. I’ve seen him a fair amount as well but not so much during the last couple of years.
From my seat in the next room, I could see him as he stood in the kitchen with my daughter and I felt this strangeness all about me. I would have thought that the feeling came from how much they have changed in the twelve or so years they’ve known each other, but it wasn’t. It was how much it seemed as if nothing had changed. They were giggling and talking the way they always did, when they were three and four and five and six.
A poignant moment from my 20th college reunion (which I remember little of since it took place in 2003) left me with a similarly strange feeling.
We’d recently arrived on campus. A group of men were standing around as my husband and I came upon them. They all had graduated with us so we checked in with them, catching up on the last couple of decades. We were all telling each other how good the others looked, how we hadn’t changed one bit, when one of the men pulled out the facebook we received in 1983, a glossy 8 1/2 by 11 booklet that contained photos of each student in the incoming Freshman class at our college.
We looked at each of our pictures. Then we looked at ourselves. The photos told the story; we HAD changed one bit. Truthfully, we’d changed a lot more than one bit.
Yet, when the facebook was put away, everybody again started to look like they did in college. Changed not one bit.
I’m still trying to process why the facebook only shifted our perspective for a minute, why we quickly reverted to our initial assertions that we looked the same at 40 as we did at 20. I don’t think it was wishful thinking as much as some weird phenomenon that occurs once the image of a person has been imprinted upon your brain.
If I look at Sam (my husband) or anybody else I’ve known for a very long time, I know they’ve aged, as I have, but unless I look with the intention of seeing them as they are now, I still see them as they were. It’s as though I’m looking at them through a funhouse mirror that distorts the physical reality of what I see.
And like when I look in a funhouse mirror, I know intellectually that the image is skewed, but still I see what I see and I believe it. For that moment in time. Which is confusing. And something I can’t seem to make sense of right now.
Anybody out there have a little perspective for me?
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