There’s that moment — sometime near the beginning of the conference, you are walking past a group of people you don’t know, and a face catches your eye. Or perhaps you are sitting in the lobby and a stranger comes toward you, but the face is a little familiar. And there is that moment when your brain hunts frantically through your memories, and your thoughts are saying something like, “Do I know that person? … Oh what is the name? … Were we in a program together?”
It’s an interesting moment, and it happens a lot at CREA, an annual event where people from different parts of the world, and of life, come together to share intense experiences. Sometimes the familiar face is familiar simply because you’ve both attended CREA before; sometimes there’s more to it than that. You were partnered in a session three years ago. You danced with them in Nettuno last year. Or they are one of the 30 people from your own program, but you met most of them for the first time last night.
The best solution is to just smile and say hello to everybody. Why not? You’re not the only one having this experience. People advance and recede in our awareness, year over year. Someone who was simply a familiar face in previous years may suddenly become a close companion this year; another person we know and love well may be glimpsed only briefly at meals. Every year is different.
It is as though CREA is giant artist’s palette with hundreds of colours, from which we create a new painting every year. This year’s painting, CREA 2012, seems unforgettable now, but in CREA 2013 (or 2014 or 2015) your memories of it will have mixed with all the intervening experiences, and we will enter Villa Balbi on the first day in April 2013 and see that half-remembered face…