Our minds are amazing, especially when it comes to memories. There was a segment on the WBEZ radio program This American Life recounting the story of a married couple who liked to tell a story about seeing Jacqueline Onassis and what an exciting day it was, only it turns out that only one of them was actually there and the other one got incorporated into the story after hearing it so many times that it felt as if both were there.
A couple of years ago, my wife and I (with our son) were invited to spend a couple of days at the home of a college friend of mine with whom I am friends on Facebook. I had many fond memories of this friend, whom I had last seen a dozen or so years prior to the weekend. Leading up to the weekend I imagined how it would go.
The weekend happened, and I could not have been more wrong. Everything that I presumed would happen from the hug that I thought would happen at the door (it was short, awkward, and a bit like hugging a mannequin) to merely wanting to spend time with me (as I thought a person would want to do after not seeing me in over a decade) — it turned out that much of the relationship that I thought we had was entirely my own fabrication.
Even some of the fondest memories I had of him — he had no recollection of them.
I imagine this is a bit what it’s like when you are fond of an actor or writer and spend years patronizing them and then one day you meet them in person and they are for whatever reason (bad day, etc.) rude to you. You build them up in your mind but the reality completely contrasts with the memories you have stored and built up in your head. It’s a bit difficult to recover from that.
I suppose we’ll always have Paris… so to speak.