This story took place when I was really little, probably around five or six years old. Now let me tell you, I was a pretty adorable five year old. My hair was always in pigtails and for some reason my mom liked to dress me in every floral pattern she could find.
Cue the AWWWWs.
Anyway, so off goes five-year old me to the movies with my parents and siblings. It was probably to see something incredibly spectacular and awesome, like Thomas the Train Saves the Rainforest, or Rugrats in Paris. I don't exactly remember the movie, but I remember after the movie, when we were all heading back to the car.
I was walking behind the cluster of my family unit, looking at the gum on the sidewalk and wondering how long it had taken to morph into the ground. Suddenly I looked up and realized that I had been slowing down, taking particularly long to observe one hardened sample. Now, my mom has insanely curly hair, so whenever I looked for her in a crowd that's what I kept my eyes peeled for.
In this instance, I saw my mom's black curly hair rounding a corner, so I picked up the pace and followed the woman, eager to catch up. For a solid ten minutes I followed her, the fact that the rest of my family was not around her not quite reaching my naive little brain.
The moment that really stands out in my memory is the instant when I realized that the woman was not my mother. I had been walking quite closely behind her, and wanted to ask where the car was.
"Mommy." I asked, but she didn't turn around. A bit annoyed that she was so blatantly ignoring me, I reached out to grab her hand. "Mommy!"
She turned around as my hand reached forward, and I froze, hand still in the air.
I remember feeling pissed off more than anything at that moment. Who the hell was this woman, pretending to be my mom? She had no right making her hair curly... or black. I just wanted to shout, YOU'RE NOT MY MOTHER, kick her in the shin, and run away. The woman gave me a weird look, and scanned the parking lot for my actual mother. Luckily they really weren't that far away, because ten minutes of walking in my mind was actually about thirty seconds.
I turned my head and saw my parents, who hadn't realized that I had followed the wrong person. The woman didn't say anything as I ran to my mom and got in the car, extremely frazzled and off balance. I didn't like the fact that somebody could impersonate my mother so easily. What if somebody else out there looked like me, and my parents picked her up and took her home instead because they didn't know which one of us was their actual child?
Every kid wants to feel unique, so I guess the memory has stayed with me all these years because it was my first large kick of reality. Sure, everyone was different, but in the end you could be replaced... just like that. I could have followed that woman all the way to her house if I hadn't realized that it was somebody else. Of course, now I'm a bit wiser than my five-year-old self, although not by much, and I know that you can't really replace people, and identities can't be stolen just by copying someone's hair style. To actually steal an identity, you'd need some connections in the government or awesome hacking skill.