30 September 2011

"You Look Familiar"

The woman was a little older than I. My brain went into its Search and Remember Mode. We were standing at the entry way to a church north of Seattle. I was there because Uncle Frank had died. I was looking for his sons before things got started. I was also looking for Betsy. Betsy used to be a juvenile detention minister and a volunteer at the adult prison in Monroe. Now she works at this parish and we were going to spend a few minutes catching up.

"You look familiar," the woman said again. I looked at her face. I'd worked only with men at the prison for eleven years, no matter how often people thought I worked at the women's prison. It's only in the last fifteen months that I've worked with women on a regular basis, and this woman did not look like anyone I knew from the county jail.

Another woman came up to us just before I started to say something. The two of them together made the connections in my brain work faster. There it was: we are cousins. We haven't seen each other in a few years. We remade the connections and talked.

I came away shaking my head. These days, when someone says, "You look familiar," I immediately think of the jail/prison context. Forget family. Forget other places I've worked. 

I need to get out more often, I told a friend. "Or go to Vegas and cut loose," she suggested. Ummmm. No. I have a feeling that even in Vegas someone will find me and say, "You look familiar." So much for my fantasy of going somewhere, acting outrageous, and still being anonymous. Should have done all my acting out years ago. Who knew?