BLANK SLATE
Bike|March/April 2020
THE UPSIDE TO FLYING BLIND
KRISTIN BUTCHER

“Hi, I’m Kristin,” I say.

“I know, we just met.” Their confused look, the one sometimes laced with the mild offense, is one I’ve come to know well.

I’ve had this conversation at nearly every social gathering I’ve ever attended. It still happens, but not as often these days. Now when I introduce myself, I add, “And I have trouble recognizing people.”

They tell me they get it, saying they’re basically the same way, except instead of forgetting faces they forget names. I nod and we continue the conversation. Usually, we chat for a while, either because it’s a good conversation or because I’m trying to figure out a socially acceptable way to extract myself and all I’ve come up with is, “I have to poop.”

Eventually, we go our separate ways and mingle with others, because that’s what you do at these sorts of things. But then they do something silly like take down their hair. Or put on a jacket. And just like that, they’re invisible to me. If I had to pick them out of a lineup of two, I may as well flip a coin. It’s a neurological condition called prosopagnosia, but most people just call it ‘face blindness.’

I mean, I see faces. It’s not like people look like a Rorschach test from the neck up to me. Instead, it’s like my brain takes a nice little snapshot of someone’s face, puts it in a frame and props it up on a shelf where it can be admired or referenced or doodled on if I get really bored. And then some asshole catwalks by and knocks the frame off the shelf and into a neatly shattered pile below.

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