Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Doppelganger

          During a visit to my maternal grandparents when I was fifteen, the doorbell rang.  Everyone else was finishing up breakfast, so Mam-maw asked if I would answer the door.  A nice old lady stood on the front porch beaming at me.
          Calling me by my mother's name, she then said, "You haven't changed a bit since the last time I saw you."
          I laughed, "I'm her daughter, Katie."
          "Oh, well you look JUST like your mother!"
          I get that a lot...at least from people who know my family.
         
          When I was little I was the spitting image of my father, but as I grew into a teenager, my face shifted and over the years, even I could recognize my mother in my expressions.  In fact, just last summer I was walking into the library and saw a person who I thought was Mom coming directly at me.
          Why isn't she wearing her glasses? I thought. 
          Then as the sliding doors opened, I realized I was seeing my reflection in the glass.  It was startling at first, but then I smiled, remembering something my Rolfer often tells me, "You can't outrun your DNA."
           So true.
           I spent over a decade in the classroom and without exception, it was always an incredible eye-opener to meet the parents of my students at Open House or during conferences.  Through listening to them, I could see where their son or daughter learned how to speak.  Through watching them move, I recognized the posture and cadence of their child's movements.  In noticing how they expressed themselves, I recognized the genesis of their child's personality.
          "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," or so the saying goes.  Through experience I quickly learned that the nuts don't either. 
          Given that we all are juggling our own personal apples and nuts, is it possible to incorporate both?  Instead of constantly keeping our issues afloat, can we take the best of who we are and make a Waldorf Salad?
           I wonder.

          Over the years I've encountered countless people who tell me I remind them of someone else.  In college more than a dozen young women said I looked like their boyfriend's ex-girlfriend.  "It wasn't me...I swear," I'd consistently reply.  
          Later on, people told me I looked like Karen Carpenter and Angie Harmon.  Most recently someone said I looked like a young Helen Reddy...and that totally took me by surprise.
          Now if someone says, "Do you know who you remind me of?"
          I nod and let them finish.
          If I've heard it once, I've heard it at least fifty times...I'm Sandra Bullock's doppelganger.  Or she's mine...however you choose to look at it.
          The first time I went to California, my seatmate on the flight eagerly told me he thought he was going to get to sit next to a celebrity.  Then when we landed in Monterey, someone stopped me in the airport near the baggage claim to see if I was a movie star.  When I finally arrived in Big Sur, a woman followed me into the bathroom to see if I was really Sandra or not.
          And although I don't see the physical resemblance (beyond our eye and hair color), it is a huge compliment to be compared to such a lovely lady.  Still, Sandra and I have some things in common.  We both snort when we laugh.  We knit.  And while my German's a bit rusty, I could get the gist of what Sandra was saying backstage at the Oscars when she won Best Actress and was addressing her mother's extended family. 
         
          It's been an interesting experience to come upon complete strangers who compare me to others.  Who instantly recognize something in me that I don't necessarily see in myself.  Still, it's not only the physical characteristics that create who I am.
          In looking back over the course of my life, I've noticed that a large percentage of my friends are Virgos.  Being one myself, I imagine I gravitate toward many of their personality traits that I embody as well.  In fact, my very first friend in first grade and I were born on the same day, at nearly the same time, at the same place.  We often joked that we must have been twins separated at birth.
          For over four decades, I've been in the good company of Virgos:  Kathy and Michelle.  Doris and Mary Pat.  Barb and Mary Ellen and Melody.  Shelly and Sally and Joyce.  Smita and Sue and Sheila.  The list is long and it's not surprising. 
          After all, my mother is a Virgo.
          And so was her mother.
          We're all spiritual doppelgangers so to speak...incarnating to learn similar lessons, but through a plethora of different experiences.  A multitude of encounters.  Countless choices.  Endless grace.

          So while I may not think I look like Sandra Bullock, I admire her ability to rise above difficult situations.  To raise a child on her own.  To continue to persevere in an industry that prizes youth and instant gratification.   
          She's one classy lady and I'm flattered to be compared to a woman who embodies qualities that I respect and value.  It's an honor to be her doppelganger...and in seeing the bigger picture, one I no longer take lightly.      

Sheila and me, two Virgo girls on their birthday in Big Sur, 2008