Ran into the Doc at the library today. I thought I recognized her, and then I knew I did, and then our eyes met and I didn’t know whether to say hi or not, and she stared past me and kept walking. Protecting my confidentiality is nice– and professional, but it’s also weird. Weird for me anyway, pretending not to know someone who knows a variety of details about my first experiences with intimacy and my true feelings about people I’m forced to be polite to. And weird in that way I used to feel as a kid when I saw my second grade teacher in the grocery store– “what? you have a life beyond that building I always see you in?”
It’s funny, because when I think about it I realize there are these little bits of things I do know about the Doc. I imagine it’s common to wonder about someone you regularly reveal your innermost thoughts to, and at the same time of course it’s reasonable not to have access to much about them at all. I know she went to school in Missouri and Connecticut because that’s what the diplomas on her wall say. I know she has at least two kids and that they go to schools in different districts for some reason because it complicates her availability for appointments around the time of spring vacations. I know she worked professionally with someone at my undergraduate school and that she knew my old neighbor, because he’s the one who recommended me to her in the first place, ten (!) years ago. I know she’s married, as she wears a wedding ring. I know she went from working in a business run by someone else when I first started going to her, to co-owning a business with other people now– because where she used to work a receptionist took care of billing and scheduling and now it’s all handled directly by her. And apparently she lives near enough by me to have reason to go to the public library in my town. And that’s about it.
It’s interesting to me that I found this chance meeting of non-interaction so awkward, because often when I see people I vaguely know in public settings I have an impulse to avoid them, a sense that I don’t want to be forced into smalltalk maybe? Or just a sense that running into someone makes me feel the need to be “on,” to entertain them on some level, to be worth talking/listening to. So in a funny way sometimes I see people and almost wish they would pretend not to see me. Sometimes too much of my life is a game of trying not to risk feeling too uncomfortable.