Wednesday, July 14, 2010

what is the magic of the familiar?

kentaro hiramatsu "park II"

what is it that makes your body recognize a place, a person, a moment?

it's that illusive something that hits you when you turn down the street you grew up and your body says, yes. i know this place. no matter how the houses around my parents' homes have changed, i still get this feeling as i pass what used to be the "green store" katrina and i used to buy penny candy at. i still get it as i crest the pine tree covered hill on 751 just as pinecrest comes into view. 

but the strange thing, is that bodily recognition of something brand new. sometimes it is a feeling of deja vu--that you have, in fact, experienced the moment, the person before, perhaps in another life.  but it is often something simpler--or more complicated--than a "weird" feeling because it's just not weird at all.

take a place. for me, when i walk into a truck stop, the rows of kitsch plastic gifts, disposable snacks, the occasional shower rooms. i know these things. i know the smell of recycled AC with a hint of motor fumes.  i can anticipate the blase disdain of the attendant when i hand over my lone diet coke for purchase. what does this say about me that one of "my places" is a truck stop? i'd like to think that it does not point to my inborn hickness, but my propensity to long road trips my whole life.

it's the same thing with airports and that reaches all over the world. every airport i have ever been in gives me that same sense of knowing. from skimming over the highway to RDU to the lights leading into Cairo, i've yet to be surprised by an airport. true, the little outpost in africa from which we took a tiny 3-seater plane was different-- i don't remember it having any electricity, after all. but it still maintained that airport "feeling."  there is something about the area around any airport, the roads that lead into them, the people who make their living off them, the stores or food places inside that just feels the same, no matter the race, the religion, the language, even the city size...

then there are people. people are, of course, a-whole-nother story. they change, they toy with you, they create strife without even meaning to just by their very transient existence.  the only thing that stays exactly the same, in that way a place can, is your memory of a person in a particular moment.

and yet, you can have that moment of "knowing" with a person. when a stranger catches your eye as you both chuckle at something only you both have seen and find funny. when a long lost friend spews out a turn of phrase you haven't heard in years, but the simple words evoke a pandora's box of shared stories. 

when you kiss someone and you are surprised to think "yes, this is how they should taste." even if you have never touched them before.

it is pleasing, this recognition. a mundane chemical reaction in our synapses, but maybe a bit of magic too.

1 comment:

  1. Just think about Schipol in Amsterdam, as we raced upstairs knowing that we had missed our flight to Vienna. Low and behold we had a nice attendant. As I grabbed machine Cappuccino, John yelled, grab your stuff, and we have to run. We flew on Austrian Airlines, had to go through customs and back in, another Tyroleian Air and got to Vienna ( new seats due to World AIDS conference) and had no bags. (most for Moshi. 3 new friends from old Delta flight. Argh, they got their bags. 3 of ours showed up on a Frankfort good back seat in Vienna, last bag delivered this am. Yea. and Mozart....ah



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