Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A double Dose of Memory

Legend has it that we all have a double somewhere in the world. It was always one of those things I kind of, sort of believed but also had my doubts about. I finally chose what side of the fence to sit on regarding this subject the other day.

I was sitting in a coffee shop and as I sipped my double tall latte my heart almost stopped. Seated across the small room was the man I dated eons ago. He had the same dark rust colored hair, the same streak of gray promise just beginning its existence through unruly strands falling over his eyes. He sat in the chair, or more precisely, he let the chair cradle him as he had done all those many years ago. The image was imprinted on my mind the first time I saw him sit on a chair the same way he sat on the earth. Chair. Earth. It was all the same to him. No one else in the world could possibly sit the same way.

I loved this man deeply and passionately so very long ago, but he still had the power to force all those emotions to the forefront with just his presence. I didn't know whether to run screaming from the coffee shop, or to throw myself in his arms and start all over from the beginning--that magical time before he went from loving me to hating me. I focused on his hands, those beautiful hands with the long, elegant fingers, the soft skin of a man who had never labored at anything more strenuous than a keyboard. I remembered how it felt to hold them, how they felt on my body, how I loved to touch them with my skin.

All the emotions came flooding back and I wanted to put my head down on the table like I did as a child in the classroom. I loved those moments of invisibility when I and all the other kids disappeared from each other. I wanted just a few of those moments to grace my present, to allow me the dignity to escape from the inevitable confrontation of unresolved emotional issues. It ended badly. I wanted it to stay safely buried in the past where it couldn't mess with my vulnerability and talk it back into trying again, whatever the again was then.

Neither one of us knew, and that is the truth of why we parted. Everything else was just an excuse. And then it became hurtful. And then it became mean. And then I ran and ran and ran as far and as fast as I could. And now he had found me again. It wasn't that I was physically afraid of him. It was that he knew my emotional weaknesses and would not hesitate to exploit them as he did then. He was a master of this. He excelled in saving his victims from himself.

I heard the chair scrape and shuddered as he stood up and started toward me. I was astonished at how he still looked the same, how he still moved the same...and then it hit me. Too much time had passed for this to be true. The man who walked past me now and nodded politely, unseeing as strangers do in passing, was much too young. The amount of time that had passed since our parting would have left at least some mark on him.

My hands shook as I tried to drink the rest of my latte and decided that yes, we all do have doubles in the world. But I also knew that most of this stranger's similarity was not in his physical presence, but in the memories inside my own mind. I saw one small piece of familiar memory and it became the whole memory. In that sense, we have more than one double. We have an endless supply.