Archetypes and Jealous Hearts

If we want to talk about the ultimate in people watching in New York City, we can just turn to the annual Ninth Avenue food festival as a prime example. The good part about this festival is that it takes place one block from where I live.  It sort of begins on 57th street and ninth avenue and extends itself down to about 42nd street.


It used to be a bigger deal.  When I was younger, I saw more mom and pop food stands.  I spied more local merchants selling unique wears.  I was more aware of local talent.  I could find either music or dance performances, or some other unusual venue for the self expression of neighbors I otherwise would never have met.


But those kinds of things just don’t happen anymore.  There is a neighborhood association that has assumed more prominence in recent years, but they have steadily lost ground with the city.  The festival used to go all the way down to 34th street and ninth avenue.  The neighborhood lost 12 city blocks worth of food, of stage space, of opportunity.  The merchants who do show their wares now are nothing but extensions of the local bars and restaurants that yuppies already frequent on a nightly basis.  The gentrification of my neighborhood is now reflected in the festival that used to be a symbol of neighborhood pride.


It’s hard to know what to think of it all.  This has only been my second festival after my ten year absence from the city.  I’m not sure there will be a third.  Aside from the fact that I have had the hardest time gaining employment of any kind out here,  the fact remains that I just don’t feel the same way about my neighborhood that I used to.  I love it still, but it doesn’t have the same spirit.  The festival proved that much.


To go to the Ninth Avenue Food Festival these days, there has to be a new motivator.  Luckily for me, it’s people watching.


Yet it was while I was watching people that I decided that there are times when humanity fights against itself.


The human beings that I have come into contact with on my short time on this earth all seem to crave something called individual self expression.  We all want to believe that we are different, that we are special in some way that nobody else can touch.  Science reminds us that even with the theory that we evolved from common ancestors that may or may not be African in origin, human DNA is so deliciously complex that individuality cannot help but manifest from the billions of its iterations.


I have to wonder what the probability is, therefore, that I will meet someone on the streets of New York City who appears to be an archetype; a person who so resembles a cluster of individuals with which I have been acquainted in my lifetime that they can in fact serve as a representation of that cluster.


I didn’t think such a thing was even possible until my foray into the Festival two days ago.  A gay man sashayed to his partner across the street from me under the bright sun, and I could not help but note that he strongly resembled two other men (neither of whom are homosexuals) that I used to know in Oregon.  One of those men used to be a neighbor of mine, and we spoke quite often.  Though I’d accidentally found his doppelganger in Oregon, he claimed not to have a brother, let alone a twin.  It was quite eerie.  To find a third man who so resembled those two living in New York City, I was forced to ask myself if there are physical archetypes for the human race.


And now we come to the controversial part of my blog.  Or do we?


To some extent, “race” can manifest as these physical human archetypes.  I might as well confess now, there are times when people of Asian or Hispanic descent DO so strongly resemble one another that I have to look very hard for subtle differences in facial structure or body language, etc.  Do Asians feel the same about the rest of humanity?  Do Chinese people look their “round eyed” white neighbors in this country and wonder why our eyes don’t have the same folds as theirs?  Do they think “Guai lo” all look and sound ridiculously surprised all the time? I would not be taken aback to discover that there is some truth to that.


But anyone who has lived in New York City knows better than to say “you know you all look alike,” and that isn’t just because you’re likely to get into it with a pissed off city slicker.


At a certain point, race doesn’t really factor into what I’m talking about.  I can’t tell you how many times I have found men who so resemble my brother or my father throughout  my wanderings in this country, or my forays into the land of cinema.  I’ve seen Chinese copies of my brother in at least two different movies.  I’ve met Japanese doppelgangers of my father in martial arts classes.  I even met a German guy that so looked like me that we had to ask each other “what if?,” even knowing that it was a physical impossibility that our parents had ever even met face to face.


And I’m not the only one who has gone through this.  In high school, I met one young woman and a young man who were a year apart in age.  Both so strongly resembled one another that I was sure that they were brother and sister.  They discovered one another before I could make formal introductions.  I can only tell you that they both got the creeps, especially when they both explored their family trees and discovered that it was impossible for their parents to be related.


But long lost brothers and sisters are not an unheard of phenomenon either.  I’ve read too many stories and heard too many crazy human interest stories on the news regarding such meetings.


I’m forced to wonder if the globalization of our economy, for example, may be just a subconscious effort on our part to reunite with our dopplegangers.


It’s food for thought.  It certainly beats then ten dollar sweet sausage hero with stale bread that I almost bought two days ago at the Food Festival.  In a country where the individual spirit is supposed to shine so brightly, in a world where more and more people are concerned with finding what it is about themselves that is truly “unique,” do we all want to do the math that suggests that we all have to have at LEAST one unknown twin in this world?  Out of more than 5 billion people, is it possible that I might stumble into my exact replica once in my lifetime if I travel the world?   And what would I find when I discovered this individual?  Would he be rich?  Would he be a playboy?  Could he be a gay, married man who took his partner to France?  Who knows!


What do you all think?  Do any of you wonder from time to time if you have a twin on this planet who may be living their lives differently or even better than you are?  Does the possibility cross your mind briefly at insane moments when you’re just trying to go about your business?  What if your doppleganger got to meet the love of your life instead of you? What if you ended up with the writing career that your unknown counterpart had been trying to attain for 2 decades?


Perhaps there are reasons that movies about time travel and other paradoxes make my eyes cross from time to time.  But I have to admit, I’m curious about this particular issue.  Maybe this is what happens when you watch people as carefully as I do and then decide to write about it.





2 Responses to “Archetypes and Jealous Hearts”

  1. Of course, I often wonder if I have a doppelganger out there. Mostly, because I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, by patients and people on the street that I look and act exactly like someone they know. They’ve actually asked me if I was related, or a twin, or if I was adopted because according to them, “The resemblance (smile or laugh) is uncanny.”

    A week after my dad died, a friend of the family swore that she saw him. She was 80 years old, it was a hot summer day, and her car was broken down on the side of the road in the middle of ‘rush hour’ in the Twin Cities. She doesn’t believe in cell phones, so, she didn’t have anyway to call for help. In the middle of ‘rush hour’ you’re lucky if someone glances your way when your stranded on the side of the freeway.

    After about 10 minutes of being stranded, a man pulled over in front of her, flipped on his hazards, and started to step out of his car. Her eyes widened when he turned around. According to her, he was the spitting image of my father. To say that she was shaken up about it, is an understatement. To this day she swears that her, ‘guardian angel Peter’ was looking out for her.

    I may wonder if there is someone out there that looks or acts like me, but I have to say, I am happy to be me. I’m grateful for the experiences that I’ve had so far in my short life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I just know that the best is yet to come 😉

    Great blog post 😀

    ~J. Marie

  2. Holy shit, bestie…that is one eerie story. I’ve heard and read stories like that, I again, I am forced to wonder if that is a coincidence, a stress induced hallucination, or what?

    That being said, I am glad you’re you too. Accept no substitutes!

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