My mind is a constantly hungry acquisitive thing, wandering about in search of new and more information. It's nothing personal or not usually, it's just the desire for knowledge. When I was little you could be excused from the dinner table only to look something up, brussels sprouts turning cold while I turned the pages of the New Book of Knowledge to prove my point or, less satisfying, to have the chance to stop being wrong.
It has always been hard for me to imagine what it is to not be curious, to not want to know more. Read all the books by an author, have all the albums by a band, know everything about anything. Now that we have the internet I really don't understand - you don't have to collect anything, because it's all at your fingertips all the time. Child's play. I do not understand video games but the thrill of looking up something obscure, the juvenelia, the B side, the cameo, is just... oh my.
Also of course the snooping, which you could call stalking but I would be hurt because it's really not about A person, it's about ALL people. I found the guy who stalked me in college, just to be sure I know where he is (unsurprised to read on ratemyprofessors that he still gives college girls the creeps), both of my closest high school friends (one more beautiful than photoshop and quite successful; the other almost as fat as I am now and on her second marriage), the girl who lived down the street from me growing up has adopted a Chinese orphan, etc. I have no desire to talk to almost anybody, I just get that weird little itch of "whatever happened to" and I scratch it.
If I do know you in person you have had me listen to you with what may have seemed like half attention, but I promise I was recording. Storing, cross-referencing, remembering. Over time you have an archive in my mind, and I build an idea of you that is as close to you as I can be, not a mask of who I wish you were but truly what I see, collectively, together, layers. I have been told that for some people it is unpleasant to be seen this way, past and present together, that I should only see the beautifully plated self before me at the moment. I have also been told that it is unfair to have your past repeated to you, like someone trying to squeeze you into baby clothes (though this is my metaphor, but I am trying to understand what is unpleasant, truly). But I think most people like it, this being seen, the charcoal pencil of my mind tracing over your outline, filling in the shadows from your eyelashes, the curve of your cheek, the little birthmark on the back of your neck, the small constellation of freckles.
I am sometimes surprised to be reminded that not everybody is like me. Not for everyone this endless acquisition, the storage, the desire for more so absolute it feels like need. But it does seem that very few people think about things like this to the extent that I do, and learning to understand and respect that one woman's exhaustive is another man's exhausting may be a thing that I also have to acquire, one of this year's "better living through empathy" triad I'm working on. I'm not planning to change who I am, and I'm still probably going to memorize poems and read your back catalog, but I will try to keep it to myself a little more.