When memories attack

A somewhat circuitous thought, but one thing leads to another … Last week we finally met the long-secret boyfriend of a good friend of ours. The boyfriend happened to be from New Zealand – we had known that much about him – and since we had just returned from our sojourn there, it was especially nice to finally meet him. It turned out he had been back there the previous week for the holidays, and we had all happened to be at the same restaurant on the same day, the day after Christmas, seven thousand miles away from where we were now. That was remarkable enough.

We enjoyed meeting him and had plenty to talk about, and he was plenty gregarious, as so many Kiwis seem to be. The whole time we were talking, though, some idea kept popping up in my head, the idea that I already knew this man. It was a sense of “who-ja vu”, so to speak. I knew for a fact I had never met him, and the nagging sensation was also tinged with a sense of nostalgia. I felt like I was looking up at this man, although we are the same height. He also seemed much older than me, but I knew he was really about ten years younger.

It wasn’t until late that night, in my sleep, that I realized what was going on. The guy bore a very strong resemblance to a figure from my childhood, a man I had not thought of in decades, but was suddenly remembering in startling detail. He had been a friend of my parents, someone we had visited on occasion. He had apparently made a strong impression on me when I was a child, because he is one of a very few grownups from my childhood I can still name and picture in my mind.

I have of course had the experience of meeting people who remind me of someone else, even if it’s just their face, or their voice, or some other mannerism, but I don’t remember such an evocation of a figure from the long distant past like this.

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