Thursday, 2 July 2009

Residual Image

I am unsure whether to make this a post about general things or to put some more specific thoughts down. I have so many things to write about right now.... But I am going to go with the thoughts, cos if I don't I shall forget them....

Do you ever bump into someone and it is clear that they are reacting to you as if you were still the same person, who would do the same things and make the same choices, as when they previously knew you? I sort of had this happen to me tonight, on my way home.

I bumped in to someone I knew back when I was still single and wild and a student. He was married at that time but possibly the unfaithful type (suspected rather than proven) and a little full of himself. I had no idea that he and his wife were no more but he dropped this into conversation and then wondered off with an odd cheeky expression on his face. I bumped into him again and helped him find something. We chatted a little on the way to the tills and he asked how my love life is (he knows very well I have been with F for quite some time). I am a little down cos F is away all weekend with work and got given the evening shift before and after he comes back. So my response was that F was working and pulled a disappointed face and his response was that he couldn't come round. (ew! as if I would want him too!) He made a few more remarks and then wandered off again...

I so hate this sort of behaviour! He was playing games either because he wanted too boost his own self image or because he wanted a roll in the hay. He wouldn't have spent time chatting me up if he met me in a pub these days, I am fat and dull, really, if those are the sorts of criteria you have. He is remembering the me that could drink a lot of the chaps under the table, the me that was somewhat wild (although never actually as wild as the rumour mill would have people believe...) That was the me he was playing games with, not the devoted fiance of a very lovely man.

Thing is, I have seen this in operation via facebook recently from the other side... In college, many years ago, I knew a lovely, good, clean cut sort of a chap. Slowly via facebook that old crowd is finding each other again and a friend who had found him, suggested him to me. I was shocked at what I found. I found a man who had been diagnosed with MS in his mid-twenties nearly a decade ago and had shortly after diagnosis become wheel chair bound.

I still see him as I knew him. Yes that residual image exists in there somewhere within him but he is a long way from that person. A very, very long way. We all are but for some people that difference time makes is more obvious.

I think we pass through life with little echoes of ourselves spinning off and held in the memories of the people we once knew. Like flies trapped in amber. All the me's that each of has ever been are not lost, they are there... somewhere for a while....

Thing is these echoes come with emotions attached. If we did something bad, they come with bad emotions. We do something good and they come with good emotions. Most sets of emotions are more complicated than that. And these emotions stay atatched unless new meetings with that person alter the emotions.

If we meet a person who carries an echo, then their reaction to us can not be that of a complete stranger. For some people they trap, others they comfort. If you are a member of a community for a long time, the amber echoes must form a web.

Imagine going through life always trapped, once the bad boy, always the bad boy? Doomed to never, be given a break?

Imagine being the goody two shoes? Never being able to cut loose? Never being able to drop those standards?

Maybe we need to let people re-establish their echoes once in a while and let go of the emotions we attach to their memories.

Maybe when we re-meet someone from long ago we shouldn't expect them to be the same person or treat them in the same way.


  1. Amen to all of this. As you have probably gathered from my blog, I made some choices in my life - 47 years ago out of naivety and have recently been judged for those decisions on two occasions. I am so not the person some people have judged me to be. I have also struggled with two friends from my childhood and teens who I have stayed in contact with over the years. They have lived all their lives, since then, in the same homes, in stable jobs and stable marriages. I have difficult relating to them and them to me because they are still the same and I have been through a rather gypsy life living in England, Kelowna and then back to Vancouver. My life has been anything but stable. They are not the least bit interested in knowing anything about my life over the past 47 years so it is really difficult to be with them sometimes although I still care about them and think of them as friends. I like the way you describe this as echos. I am so not who they think I am and yet there is some aspect of that person still in me. Very interesting and food for thought.

  2. This is a brilliant post...I love the idea of makes such incredible sense....

    I think echoes are why I reinvented myself (at least in my head) so much as a younger person....I *so* didn't want to be the person that people thought I was...I've often struggled with others' perceptions of me and found them surprising and not the least bit daunting sometimes...

    funny...I was percolating a post on this feeling of fraudulence earlier in the week...I think it's gone now though....;)


  3. So true. Although I try really hard not to let what I have done in the past make me feel guilty about where I am today, sometimes people forget. I've only recently begun to experience this again in earnest since I've moved closer to home- memories of childhood/highschool friends.
    When I moved back here I tried to reconnect with a person who i was friends with in highschool... and realized that I was no longer the person I was then. And neither was she. We don't really get along... she has such negative energy I had to stop talking to her.

    It was a weird reality check.

  4. Oh and Rose! I finished "The Medicine Road" today... it was very short but very good! I liked the little illustrations and now NEED to read more de Lint :)