I don't really know how to write about this. It's been hanging around for a long time, but words escape me. When I try to explain verbally, I end up embarrassed, fumbling, certain that I'm not expressing anything close to reality. But if I can't write it, I can't solve. This is my curse. Until I'm able to clearly express the problem, I cannot find a solution or, at the very least, a management device.
The topic I'm addressing seems to have multiple facets, so I'll probably post a few times on different aspects. Also, talking about it seems to be panic inducing, so if the same thing happens when I write, I'll probably just stop when it no longer feels tolerable. This post is partial attempt number one. There may be many attempts before I get it right.
I have difficulty visualizing people. I know who they are. I recognize them. I just don't always remember what they look like. I think I have always been this way, I've just chosen never to think about it unless I had to. Situations constituting a need to remember people's faces:
1. When I'm introducing someone.
2. If I see someone in the store or restaurant who talks to me as if we know each other.
3. If I have to pick Tolkien Boy (or anyone) up at the airport.
4. If Lolly (or anyone) is picking me up at the airport.
5. If I initiated a group get-together at a restaurant.
1. My wedding reception was a disaster when it came to introductions. Normally, I don't believe I would have failed quite as miserably as I did (this was my hometown - I KNEW these people), but getting married was stressful for a number of reasons, all of which are awkward and frustrating to talk about, so I won't. But the gist of this is that when people came through the reception line, I didn't recognize them so introducing them to Darrin was impossible. Thankfully, they introduced themselves.
2. I've lived in my small town for many years so most people who know me also know that when I'm shopping, I'm rarely looking at people. They believe it's because I'm very focused. It's actually because if someone stops to talk to me, probably I'll leave the store not knowing who they are unless they're a person I see and speak with frequently. About a year ago, a former student from one of my classes stopped to chat with me. I'd graded his comp exams, too. But I couldn't remember him. I do know, however, that he passed and was applying to some Canadian universities to pursue his PhD. That's something, right?
3. I have known him for nearly 10 years. Outside of Darrin and my kids, I probably know no one better. I have picked him up at the airport so many times I've lost count. But I still panic every time because when there are hundreds of people around, I can't remember what Tolkien Boy looks like. This could be because there are hundreds of people around. Regardless, if I'm picking him up, I have his photo on my phone screen. And I make sure I know what he's wearing in case he's changed a lot since that photo was taken.
4. I chose Lolly because she's the last non-family member to pick me up at an airport, but the problem is the same as in number four--lots of people, my panic, fear of nonrecognition on my part. In this case, I can watch for a car, but my automobile recognition skills extend no further than a color and whether I'm looking for a sedan, truck, or van. It's dismal.
5. I do this on occasions when I'm traveling and I want to see a large number of people, but I have a limited amount of time available to me to do so. I'll contact all of them and say, "Let's have lunch!" And then we do. And while the time spent is not as long as I would like, nor am I able to visit with each person individually, I still get to see them and that's better than nothing. However, I don't always recognize them immediately, so I try to have someone with me to watch for them. I have also been known to arrive a few minutes late so the Friends are already there. I can identify the group better than the individuals.
It has been suggested to me that I might have prosopagnosia which is a real disorder. I don't know if I have that.