People, being astounded at my capacity to recite useless information and scraps of poetry and prose, occasionally ask if I have a photographic memory. No, I do not. Michael could certainly tell you that; I often can’t even see what’s right in my face, never mind remember it. Not a day goes by that I don’t lose some small everyday item like keys or sunglasses and have to spend a bit of time frantically looking for it. I’m hopeless at recognizing people I don’t know and not that great at recognizing people I do know.
Oddly enough, however, I do have a good memory for photographs. I’m as great at recognizing photographs of people as I am terrible at recognizing actual people. Once two or three years ago, a friend showed me a very early (late 19th century) color photo of three or four Russian peasant girls and I recognized it instantly. A sepia-toned crop of that picture appeared on this book cover. I read the book shortly after it came out, in 2003, and had not given much thought to it since.
But getting to my point: I spent the better part of an hour today racking my brains and digging through my browser history trying to find another copy of this photograph which I had stumbled across while looking at a website about hairstyles. The second I saw it I knew I’d seen it only a few days or weeks before, somewhere online, and of course I just had to find out exactly where, the memory was like an insect stinging and wouldn’t stop bothering me. Being that most of the photographs of young girls that I see are on missing children’s websites, I thought the model might have appeared on a recent NCMEC poster. No such luck. I had to look harder, pouring over my history checking likely URLs.
Finally I found her here, on a website for an non-profit that assists foster care kids and homeless kids in Mississippi. I accessed the website a week and a half ago. I have no idea why. I’d accessed thousands of other sites between then and now.
So, the insect bite is soothed and I can go to bed. I cannot think of a LESS profitable use of my time. I need to get a life or something.