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“Recognition,” by Kate Clanchy

March 24, 2011

This one could be a girl I know but somehow younger.

Something like this has happened to me every time I’ve traveled or moved someplace totally new:  I’m in a library, train, pub, museum–some crowd–and every person in my periphery is someone I know. For a split second. Until I look. Which I can’t help doing over and over.  Sometimes I’ve made other people look too, my swivel-head has been so pronounced.

Is there a language from which we could steal a word, schadenfreude-style, deja vu-style, for this reflex?  Or for the frisson of disappointment and nostalgia that comes right after, when you realize you’re still among strangers? (Frisson? Nostalgia?  Not quite it.)

Anyway, I like “Recognition” because it means I’m not the only one.

It’s in Kate Clanchy’s book, Slattern (Picador, 2001).

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2011 10:52 am

    No, you are not the only one, though you are a one and only! Yes! I’m amazed how often this happens. (Sometimes I wonder if it is wishful thinking.) I wonder about the way we categorize by eyes, size, form, memories etc.. I wonder at how God created us so alike, yet so uniquely different. And I keep wondering.

  2. March 24, 2011 11:20 am

    Wishful thinking, for sure, sometimes. But equally often a real, low-grade fear of not having gotten all the way away. And sometimes sheer, vertiginal disorientation!

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