Lately my potential blogging ideas are all strongly verging on large blessings rather than small. Even when I thought of writing about the way a joyful newly-walking toddler careens of in a random direction, only to sit down suddenly on her bottom, Tim argued that in no way was this a small blessing.
I had lunch yesterday with a friend whom I had not seen for a couple of months. It got me thinking of how we recognize each other. Even in a large crowd, a known face is recognizable. Face recognition is a basic subconscious ability for all of us except those who are "face blind". As with many animals, being able to recognize our kin and friends has been an important survival skill. Perhaps it still is.
The mutual smile of recognition is a beautiful one, like the sun coming from behind a cloud. It crinkles the eyes, rounds the cheeks and seems even to bring a rosy glow to our faces. I love to watch the people waiting for loved ones at the airport. Their air of anxious expectation breaks suddenly into the full sunshine of a smile.
First seeing a friend after a long absence is a different and interesting experience. At the first glance, we see what has changed about our friend - the graying hair, different whiskers, extra weight or less. But an instant later, with a sort of mental click, that image merges with our memory of the friend and they appear just that - our friend. I haven't read Proust, except for about a third of Swann's Way, but I enjoyed a sort of Cliffs Notes version from my husband. I liked the idea that we bring our entire memory of a person or place to each encounter. That is what makes old friends more precious, like well-aged wine.