The unfamiliar familiar

How many times in conversation have you replied to a question of familiarity with “Oh yes, I know them!” or “definitely, I know them well. I played ball with his daughter.” Think of every person you know, and could you fully recount their features and personality? Did you really take the time to know each one of your acquaintances? Now it’s probably near impossible to do this for everyone you know, but what about people you consider to be a friend?

As I looked up from my laptop, prepared to take notes for an upcoming feature article, i  realized the man setting across the desk from me, although a familiar face, seemed for some reason not familiar at all.

His style and demeanor were the same as I remembered and he’d neither lost nor gained weight to my eye. He spoke in the same tone I always knew, friendly, jokingly, but direct.

While he spoke intelligently of the next steps of their business model, it occurred to me that I had never stopped to study the detailed features of his face.

So what? You may ask. Looks aren’t everything, you say. This is true, but I’m talking of the features that create the individual character. As he continued to speak genuinely of the background of the program and its’ development, I became less interested in my notes and more interested in the expressions of his face.

All these years covered by a short, meticulously trimmed white beard hid a chiseled, pointed chin. One could call it sharp if it was shaved, I presume. When he laughed, I noticed his jaw did not seem as prominent and the set of his teeth were more inward (?) than I remembered. The lines of his face reflected the years, showing character, but somehow remain unchanged.

What I saw before me was the kind, family man, but at the same time the shrewdness of a businessman as opposed to the father figure to youth organizations I had thought to have been so familiar with before.

Was it me who had changed? My view of who he had been in my life before compared to what he was today appeared to come from a different place. Surely I had changed since our last encounter for it had been years since we enjoyed any discussion remotely that long, if any. Had he aged? It sure didn’t appear so. What I noticed today were features and characteristics of a human being I had totally neglected before. I had categorized him as an outline of what he represented to me, but not fully taken the time to recognize his individuality.

And what I realized as we parted ways at the end of the interview, is that perhaps we were two people known to each other, who had never really known one another at all.

So in closing, I’m making it a goal of mine to be more observant of those close to me and fully appreciate and know – not just their features, but what makes them unique and why they are important to me.


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