On Thursday someone I have not seen since 1990 showed up in town. Like most of my friends he is an investment banker and much richer than me. So it was no surprise that he showed up in a chauffeur-driven car carrying well-worn Louis Vuitton luggage. What did surprise me though is that he looked EXACTLY THE SAME as he did when I last saw him circa 19 years ago at a dinner party in London.
When I saw my best friend Iona in India l realised she was practically identical too. And I first met her in 1986. Actually she looks better now. She attributes her youthful appearance to plenty of time off and no children.
I didn’t dare ask these friends how I look for fear they would wince and say ‘well actually, you do look a bit rough, but not bad considering you’ve had three children and worked like a dog for 20 years.’ But is it possible that there is some part of our brains that not only recognises old friends, but ages them in milliseconds so that actually once we register who they are they don’t look a day older than 19?
Does that make sense? Possibly not. But if you’re confused imagine how I feel? Soon my friends will be younger than my children.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009
I think you’ve got it right, there’s a part of our brain that ages them, if you’ve got photos, dig them out and you’ll see that they have aged much more than you! Being an investment banker has to age you, otherwise why pay them so much? mimi
didn’t make it to a reunion of school friends last weekend. but was sent pictures. Realized exactly the opposite. They all looked tremendously old.
Is there something wrong with me????
Oh my God we all age but the process is kinder to some of us than others. Like you, I have worked like a dog – for over 20 years actually! – but I am on the cusp of turning 50 as are many of my friends, obviously. I agree with Lloyd (comment above), that with few exceptions I and all my mates have aged markedly. But then how can you be 50 and look 20? Why would you want to? And those of us who have enjoyed life via a ‘healthy’ mix of alcohol, tobacco, espresso coffee and sun rays etc may look our age, but then we’re blokes and in most circles we don’t have to live our lives trying to look youthful the way so many females in our celebrity obsessed culture are obliged to by the consciences of OK! Hello! and other such dictators of what passes for attractiveness (yes, including shallow husbands in some cases!). I am not defending blokes versus women or people letting themselves turn into lumps of lard, just observing what I see!
I COMPLETELY understood what you said – and I am with you! Yes – I think our brain does conveniently age people accordingly so that we all still recognize each other even though todays nomadic lives take us to far flung places in the world. And thank god that is the case or we’d all end up very lonely when we never recognized each other :-). Aging is also a state of mind – consider a 70 year old who has the energy of a 60 year old, compared with one who is indulging themselves in advancing years… you find that the physical representation is also related.
I think we age the ones we don’t really care about and keep our friends timeless in our minds. When we see them we see our past with them.