Saturday, February 7, 2015

Reverberations of Partition

When I first moved to Seattle, it was like setting off into amnesia.

I had spent my entire life in an Illinois town called Belleville, 2135 miles from where I resettled in the state of Washington. I moved up there with one person, but I didn’t know a single other. I could walk into the grocery store and not bump into my high school history teacher or my friend-from-boyscout’s den mother or that drunk guy that always showed up to local band shows. My reflections of the past did not matter in Seattle. Every step I took was a new one. Every road I turned onto was a discovery. I was in a world that had the echoes of the society I had grown up in, but it was not anything I could truly recognize.

I would see strangers that looked exactly like people I knew from home. Wow, there’s _______, how did they get here? Oh wait.

I would enter my old brain—which had split to compensate my new life, a partition of my gray matter hard drive—and for a second the world would seem as though Belleville was bleeding from the walls and I could smell the fresh dung on the cornfields. The fact that people could be so similar yet exist in two different cultures and parts of the world perplexed me. I recognized them in a vague way, yet I never had known them.

I moved back to Belleville about two years ago. Last night I saw someone at Target that reminded me of a person I knew in Seattle, and I had the inverse unminded effect. After two years of being in Seattle, I began to know plenty of people. A new culture had formed on the partition. So seeing this mirror twin of the guy I knew but will probably never see again had that same effect.

The two worlds blended for that moment, and it was almost natural to see him. Of course, he loved Target and would be there! No, wait, he’s 2135 miles away. How could it be?

Looking into water, you can see yourself like a mirror. Toss in a pebble, however, and your reflection ripples and you aren’t yourself. Something is off. Something isn’t quite right. You bend.