And here is another awesome article, by Blake Ross, co-founder of Firefox.
(keep in mind, if you read these, that each person's experience is a bit different)
It describes the condition I've had all my life and finally gives it a name: Aphantasia. What is it? It's the inability to visualize, to pull up pictures in one's mind.
Now, I've known that I'm different in this way since ... oh, my early 20's? And I don't see it as an impairment - I'm just different. But reading the article made me realize some other things. It says that others with aphantasia also usually cannot recall sounds or smells or tastes or touches. And that threw me for a loop, because I didn't know people could recall those things, too. I can't. Well, I can pull up songs in my head - that seems to be the exception to the rule. But I can't call up someone's voice or remember their touch. A particular smell does not initiate a sense memory taking me back to another time and place.
Something else I've realized. While I don't see or hear or smell or feel when I remember someone, I do remember them in my own fashion. This is hard to explain, as it is mostly just a 'sense' of that person. But as I've been experimenting with my recall, and trying to pull up different people, it's made something else clearer. My recall, even of that 'sense' of someone, is quite limited, and it fades. For friends that I've known for a long time, even if I haven't seen them in a while, it remains fairly strong, but I can tell that it fades with time.
I'd noticed this previously. I had wondered why, with old girlfriends, I couldn't really remember them. Not just their faces or voices, but that 'sense'. It's like they get erased. I thought perhaps there was some emotional block that was doing that. But now I think it's just the way my brain operates.
It also explains why I don't really miss people. My brain simply doesn't pull up the necessary images or voices while they're gone. What I do experience is that once I see them again, I get a feeling of, "oh, good!" So, it's like I catch up once they're back. In a way.
I'm remembering also the time that a guy stopped me on the street. He clearly knew me, but I had no idea who he was. And he was playfully not telling me. He finally relented and told me his name, and only then did I realize that I really did know him. Really. As in, he was the husband of a friend of mine. I'd hired him and we'd worked together for about six months. And we'd even been on vacation together. Seriously. And yet I looked at him and had no clue. Mind you, I can remember all of these facts, but looking at that face, my brain could not find the corresponding files.
So, it's a journey. I'm still figuring out the ways in which I am weird.