There’s this gorgeous woman who comes into my work-place regularly. Though she’s physically striking, my use of the word gorgeous is mainly in reference to what’s on her inside because in that sense she is about as gorgeous as a person can be, and I barely know her. She is tall, very tall for a woman, and quite big-boned. It’s hard not to notice her. She has shoulder-length hair that is died aqua-blue at the ends but has faded to more of a silvery-blue in recent weeks. She often wears these big, glitter covered button earrings and the first time I noticed her, months ago now, she was wearing all blue so in my head I named her the Blue Lady. But the “Lady” part seemed much too cold and distant for such a friendly person so now, in my head, she’s simply Blue. And she has these stunning icey-blue Polish eyes, so Blue fits. I do know her real name, as of yesterday, but I’m too shy to share it.
I’ve always been good at remembering faces. Names may sometimes escape me, but it is very hard for me to forget someone’s face. Especially if it’s someone I’ve spoken to, and definitely if it’s someone I’ve spoken to on more than one occasion. Working in a cafe, a lot of faces have become very familiar to me. And I always wonder whether I’m familiar to these people, too.
Blue made me realise that maybe I am, and there’s something quite nice about knowing you’re remembered. Blue disclosed to my friend who also works in the cafe that she has a nickname for all of us, and the nickname is to do with who she thinks we are from what she knows of us in our very minimal contact. But the thing is, Blue refuses to tell us what our nicknames are, because in her words, that’s just not something she does. And I find this kind of sweet really because clearly the nicknames are quite personal and she’s maybe embarrassed about what her nicknames for us might say about her. The other day I jokingly begged her to tell me her nickname for me and once again she refused. She said “But I’d really like to know your real name. What is it?” And then I told her “Emily” and she repeated it with this sigh as though Emily was the most lovely name in the world.
On a side note, that got me thinking about the name Emily and how all the Emilys (Emilies?) I know, myself included, aren’t anywhere near as lovely or innocent as the name misleads. I think Charlotte and Lucy fall into the same category. And that’s in no way an offence to all Charlottes and Lucys because frankly, who wants to be lovely and innocent?
Back to Blue.
This same realisation of my being recognised happened when two other patrons at the cafe – a husband and wife who always share a muffin – asked for my name. I was touched. They said something along the lines of “we feel as though we should know your name after all these months!” and it was just a lovely thing for me to hear because for all those months I’d been thinking what a lovely couple they were and how they had no idea who I was. I suppose they still have no idea who I am but at least I now know they know what I look like and that I look the same each time they come in. I don’t know if that makes sense. Does it?
I guess in a little way this is some sort of thank-you to Blue and to Sarah and Grant for making me realise that I am recognisable in the same way I recognise you. I think that’s a really lovely thing and I hope whoever’s reading this realises that they too are recognised by familiar strangers.
But I really am left wondering about Blue’s nickname for me. I am also left wondering what’s another word for “lovely” because I’ve used it quite a bit, haven’t I?