on perception and memory…

I met an old and dear friend for dinner this week, someone who is – outside of family – my longest-known-and-still-in-contact-with person. We’ve known each other 40 years, but have lived quite distinct lives for the last 35 – catching up sometimes rarely, but in that glorious “it’s as though the intervening time hasn’t happened” way.

And yet it has. Sitting, post-prandial, by the log fire in a wonderful rural inn, we spoke about various Stuff that’s happened over recent years, and there was a sudden lull. A joint pondering. He said, “man, but there’s been so much…”

So much Life, is what he meant. Between ‘us then’ and ‘us now’, we have each lived full grown-up lives and despite the natural familiarity are, in fact, largely strangers.

Which got me thinking – good, positive pondering, like a visit from the Muse – about this friendship, and others, spanning years and yet to all intents fixed on a small space of actuality: a tiny fraction of Time Known, where there was a tight connection, with the intervening years enhanced by that strong sense of recognition – a tie, a bond, a lasting connection – which is actually a memory, a perception, and no longer a reality.

My dinner companion was a hugely important part of my life 35 years ago, and the essence of that remains. I’ve spotted him, occasionally, in other men, in other decades. The glimpse always draws me. It’s that memory of something… perhaps it’s unfinished business from a previous life. Perhaps it’s a quest on behalf of an alternative self in a parallel world. Perhaps it’s just a hunger.

Ah, but it was a gentle and welcome Muse. It resulted in a poem:

the idea of you