When a person I know from my childhood comes into my adult life, it’s hard to reconcile the disparity of the interaction. Usually there are two different paths these interactions can take. For me, I tend to just make light small talk and move on, if I choose to acknowledge that I have run into someone I used to know at all. Sometimes, I don’t say anything and I never know if they recognise me and then I can’t get it out of my head.
Twice recently, I have run into people I have known since I was a child. The first took a moment to recognize me, but we ended up having a relatively pleasant conversation (about how long it’s been since I’ve seen them and about the weather. Everyone in Maine has something to say about the weather).
The second struck me a little bit harder. It’s one of those that plagues my overthinking, overactive, anxious brain. I didn’t know whether or not to bring up the fact that I knew the woman when I recognized her… In the end I didn’t, but I almost wish I had. I wonder now what she would have said. Would she have even recognized me, knowing how I knew her?
I could have gone with the safe, easy option, of “You look really familiar…”
But the truth was that she didn’t look familiar.
I can’t explain what put the idea in my head that she might be someone I knew. I didn’t recognize her face so much, and I thought the woman I knew was taller. But then again, the last time I saw her, I was 8 years old, so almost 20 years ago.
It was more about how she carried herself, the look in her eyes. It was just… Familiar.
I know her because she used to be my father’s friend. They spent time together. I remembered that her name was common, but spelled differently. I remembered her last name. I remember that we share the same middle name. I thought that was the coolest thing when I was 8.
I chose to ignore the similarities, the feeling of familiarity, and tried to help her with her chocolate order as is my job. She did not recognize me, but perhaps she was thinking the same thing as me. In all honesty, looking at pictures of me from when I was young, I don’t feel like I look much different, but I think my glasses might throw some people off. I didn’t start wearing those until I was fully an adult.
In any case, she didn’t say anything to me, either.
When she paid for her chocolate and fudge, the name on the credit card she gave me was exactly what I expected it to be. Normally I don’t look at the name on the card unless it says “SEE ID” on the back, but I was so curious. I was actually surprised. Because, again, I didn’t remember what the woman I was thinking about looked like.
It really should not surprise me. There are only so many people in Maine, even in my town. Many of them shop where I work. I do run into people I know at the grocery store close to my house. Which is stressful in many other ways – the people I run into are people I try on purpose to avoid. So I shop for groceries elsewhere.
These interactions leave me with a load of questions and few answers and plague my mind for weeks after they happen. Part of the overthinking, overactive, anxious brain.