Have you had the experience of seeing someone who looks just exactly like you?

How about seeing someone who looks just like the you in your head looks?

I see him every now and again, and he isn’t always the same guy, but I recognize him just the same. He has shaggy, longish, light brown or blond hair, sometimes with a bit of a scruffy soul patch. His eyes are light and twinkly with secret mischief, and he has an easy smile. He slouches or lounges or saunters like he’s so at home in his body it just flows onto whatever surfaces he’s near.

He’s slender, tall, broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped. You’d never peg him as a team sports sort of guy, but you’d be sure it was the truth if someone told you he was a surfer or beach volleyball player. He sings or plays guitar, doesn’t smoke, has tattoos, wears a necklace and maybe an earring or two, and has big hands and feet. He wears faded jeans and a plaid shirt, or a graphic tee and dark grey painter’s pants, or a thermal-weave shirt that looks so soft and comfortable it could be made of a baby blanket.

And boots. Solid, worn-leather boots.

He’s queer. Bi, probably, but he doesn’t really like the label. He votes liberal, gives money to charities for clean water or nature conservancy, isn’t afraid to call himself a feminist, and feels a little guilty about how he likes meat too much to be a vegetarian. But not guilty enough to do anything about it.

I saw him at the vet’s office today with a giant Saint Bernard and a couple of female friends. I’ve seen him in a music video singing a bittersweet country song about being the man you can count on when things are going wrong. Seen him in an indie rock video singing a lullaby — “Everything’s gonna be alright…” — and I believed him, at least for as long as the song lasted.

He’s a tenor with a sweetness to his voice, and he’s old enough to have loved and lost and learned to love again. Or he’s young, just settling into being a grown man, with some things still to learn but the easy confidence that he’ll manage if he just tries.

I’ve seen him at the beach in a wetsuit, balancing a turquoise and white longboard on his head as he strode across the sand towards the waves. Seen him at the airport buying a Rolling Stone magazine and holding a brown leather satchel. I’ve seen little-kid-him, too, with his hair wheat-blond and his smile so wide it lit the whole outdoors, laughing and running across the grass at the park.

It always takes my breath away just a little when I see him. And makes me sad, because the next reflective surface I come to, I look for him, and he’s never there. Not to the naked eye. He’s there inside me, but not a soul will ever see him and know he’s me, but me.


~ by Nezu on 28 October 2011.

8 Responses to “Doppelganger”

  1. “He’s there inside me, but not a soul will ever see him and know he’s me, but me.” That’s not necessarily true. I see him in you too.

    And also, is that song “Lullaby” by Shawn Mullins? If so, I love that song, and I love his voice.

  2. Perhaps more people see it than you think. And maybe you see all of you, the whole, beautifully complex package, than just a specific piece…

    And that really is a great song. 🙂

  3. Rugged like a cowboy – complete with hat and boots – stands tall, shoulders squared, with hands that tell of hard work. He’s strong but gentle, loving. Capable of defending his family and life but prays he’ll never need to, faithful. People see him work hard but don’t know the library in the house belongs to him (not his wife). He’s intellegent, wise, but keeps his mouth shut most of the time, unless asked, then he’s a friend like no other. Dependable, well liked, and he votes.


  4. I have to add myself to the other comments saying a lot of this sounds awfully familiar already… and more is on the way. It seems like you have done a lot of work towards making the internal you visible to others.

  5. I see a man with a great smile, broad shoulders just right for leaning into, and blue hair. I see a man who looks after his friends, sings in a choir and likes to walk on tje beach. I see a man who wears his heart on his sleeve sometimes, who will cook breakfast and ask after your family. I see that man, even when we are a continent apart.

  6. I know I’m late on this one, but I do know what you’re sayin’, happens to me too. Sometimes I’ll be walking along and look at a guy who is the kind of guy I’d be, who I feel that I am, and I’ll give him a nod of recognition. Most of the time, he doesn’t have a clue why I’m doing that, cuz he doesn’t seem the me that I sometimes am on the inside. Sometimes I will get a nod back, and that’s a really good feeling.

    I remember there was an ad on tv and in print for a while, for a local bank I think, and a couple of the guys in that ad triggered my ‘that’s the kind of guy I am’ feeling. Guys who grew up working class and did a little better than that but retain their sense of a good life based on the good work you do. It’s heartbreaking sometimes to know those guys are out there, the ones I’d be, and I can’t bridge the gap between me and them.

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