Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Who do I remind you of?

Lately I'm intrigued by that thing that seems to happen as you start growing up, when your heart and your head really do stop sharing a bedroom, when they start going to see movies on their own, developing separate lives, rarely acknowledging each other except to say "pass the salt" at the dining table. While your heart remains blisfully naive and adolescent, listening to the same old angsty Smiths records it always listened to, poring over old love letters, drawing moustaches on copies of YM, your head becomes a beacon of rationality, perhaps overly rational, and lists all of the foolhardy endeavours the heart once took it on, and the results of each. These records can not be broken or destroyed. Once the head has taken note, it's taken note forever.

Which is why it's so odd when the heart makes another one of its flash decisions, and the head politely knocks on that old bedroom door, just as the heart is putting on its hat and the last of its makeup, to diagnose the situation like some kind of killjoy doctor. "We've seen this before." It says. "Or do you not remember the summer of 2003?" But to the heart everything is new. Everything is a first. And there is always hope and the possibility for the impossible.

This brings me to today's obsession - people or situations that remind you of another person or another situation so overwhelmingly, you find yourself behaving as though in the past. I've had people do it to me before - there was a certain lady at university who I was mistaken for on numerous occasions. We even dated the same man, one after the other. Years later, a good friend of hers became a good friend of mine, and I found out that he thought we were so alike he just pretended I was her in conversation. I took that pretending very well, and after finding out that it wasn't me he was inwardly addressing, I wasn't remotely offended. In fact, I found the whole thing kind of comforting. I'm not sure why. I liked the idea that someone else had been there before.

Today I'm interested in connecting doppelgangers. Possibly separately interviewing people who friends say remind them of each other, or placing them in the same room to see what would happen. What makes them similar? Do they share something in their manner, in their faces, in their eyes, in their histories? And am I the only one who finds this a useful shorthand for social situations, rather than depressing or disturbing?

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