Today I identified, by a photo of his face, the man who mugged me Saturday night. The detective asked me if I was 100% sure, and I was - but I was also only 99% sure. See, the memory of face is embellished, like all memories, by emotion and prior experience. I kept imagining his bright dilated eyes and the many faded tattoos on his neck and hands. The photo had no neck tattoos and his eyes were light but not bright, yet I was sure it was him. When I saw the picture I recognized him with the same sudden certainty as you would an old friend in a crowd.
I guess I’m glad he only took my phone, but this (picture above) was one of the pictures (of myself) that was on my phone - along with pictures of the house I grew up in, and of the last moments I had with my grandmother.
We attach face pics to our IDs as if they were something exact and unique, but especially now I feel like our faces do not even belong to us in the moment; that they change with our moods, that they transcend photography, that they age over time and yet remain immutable in our impressions, that they belie us as much they represent us. They are precious.