Every so often (not often, really, but "every so rarely" just doesn't sound right) I receive a moment of utter clarity, a blindingly brilliant beam flashing through my being that illuminates a rock-solid connection between what I had thought were distant dots with no relationship to each other. In recent years I have acquired a mentor of sorts, a crusty, grouchy codger who frightens many people but has taken me under his wing and taught me quite a bit. Over the weekend my mentor from my teenage years--amazingly, someone often perceived as a crusty, grouchy codger who frightened many people but took me under his wing and remains the finest teacher I have ever had--called because he was in town for a wedding. It was uncanny. The entire time I was on the phone with Tom (mentor from the before time in the long ago place far away...), I couldn't shake the perception that I was actually talking to Dave. The voice was the same. The mien was the same. It was like walking into a funhouse where the walls and doors are set at crazy angles and even though you know you're standing on level ground, the disconnect between your brain and what your eyes are telling it sends you careening sideways into the floor.
We never did get together due to just unfortunate crazy schedules we couldn't get to mesh. We did talk on the phone a couple more times, and I still never quite got the picture of Tom in my head extracted from the picture of Dave that popped up with each conversation. At the end all I could do was shake my head and think, well, I guess that explains a few things. I had thought those two dots were filed away in very different compartments, separated by innumerable headings and subheadings based on time and geography. Apparently they have been inhabiting the same box in my brain for a long time. Funny what we carry around with us, thinking we're continually forging into new territory when, in fact, it's one big circular track and we keep skating lap after lap, only occasionally recognizing that the scenery hasn't changed much.