Ghosts from the past (or when an expat gets caught)

A few days after writing on the expat status something strange happened. I was coming back home from the market and saw a woman pushing a pram down my street. She looked familiar but truth is my sight is getting worse these days and I wasn’t sure. So I avoided my Italian gesturing thing and kept quiet. She walked past me, turned back and said hi as if we had coffee together every morning. I looked again and got goosebumps. She looked familiar because she’s my cousin’s cousin and we used to play together when we were, like, 6. It took me 15 minutes of conversation to remember her name and the following 24 hours to get a whole recollection of her family name and a few childhood snapshots. She chose the expat life too, married a Dutch and had a pale, blondish baby. (Just to confirm my theory on actual dominance of Northern European genes).We stand there, talking as if we never parted for quite a long time. It was utterly comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. Remember when I said that an expat is entitled to a fresh start, new life, new session of self marketing in every new country? Well, I have done all that now and I didn’t like this sudden encounter with a ghost from the past. We politely exchanged telephone numbers, and laughed at the fact that we’ve been living less than a mile apart for the past 8 years and never crossed paths. But I am not sure there will be any more sand playing soon.

To the expats out there: have you ever bumped into your personal ghost? How did it feel?

One comment

  1. Goldfish have better memories than me. In the UK I was stopped in the street, by a man who greeted me as a friend. We shook hands, commented on the weather, introduced Mrs Sensible etc. As we walked away, Mrs Sensible said “who was that?” I don’t have a clue I replied.

    Two days later, after some serious pondering, I told Mrs Sensible, it was a customer of mine, who worked in the steel mill. But I didn’t recognise him because he looked smart and didn’t have his overalls on!!

    Mrs Sensible dreads the years ahead, she thinks my memory will deteriorate to the point where she will have to wear a name tag.

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