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Mpls, MN, United States

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Incidents & Accidents

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Six degrees

"I come from a family of serial marriers. They've all been married multiple times. He's my aunt's third or fourth husband. What's her name now...?" Jill, a PhD student serving as my UCSD guide, paused to ponder her uncle's last name. When I had mentioned that my boyfriend was in the Bahamas studying parrots, she said, "My uncle studies parrots in the Bahamas! He and my aunt go down there every summer to look at birds and lizards and things."
"Wow," I said. "I bet they know each other."
But she still couldn't remember his name. "Bill..." she started.
"Bill? Not Bill Smith*," I said incredulously.
"Yes! That's it. Bill Smith."
"Bill is my boyfriend's advisor at Loma Linda."
"Right, Loma Linda, that's it!"
"She has a daughter who's been ill?"
"His daughter has been ill."
"This is crazy," I said.
"I have a really big family," she said.
"I'm a little creeped out."
She shrugged. "We're everywhere."

A few weeks earlier, I heard my name called in the Portland REI. When I turned around, there was a baffled- looking first year MFA student from my school in Ohio. "Takemi?" I said. I remembered that he was from California, but apparently he, along with his family, was visiting his sister in Portland. I got to meet them, but was a little too stunned to do much more than stare and smile. He was shopping for a heavy winter coat to wear back here at school, in what he called "the tundra."

And finally, I was at church with my parents last weekend when I noticed a tall, vaguely familiar fellow with dark hair and glasses. I stared a little bit as we passed him in the hallway, and even said to my mom, "That guy looks so familiar... but I think he looks familiar from Italy." I had actually forgotten about it by the time I was exiting the women's restroom minutes later--and almost ran into his outstretched hand. "Hello," he said, "I know you!" His subsequent aside, in Italian, to his girlfriend, confirmed it. Neither of us could recall the other's name, but did remember that we'd met at Villa. Apparently he'd only been there three weeks (two and a half years ago), when I was there. Now he's getting his PhD in Geology, and was in southern California just to visit.

So many people around Loma Linda look familiar, whether because I actually know them (from Auburn, Walla Walla, Union, Big Lake, UCA), or because they just look like other people from the aforementioned institutions, that I'd finally decided I didn't know everyone and had tried to stop noticing. But the three coincidences above make me glad that I did notice... and make me wonder how many more I miss.

*Names loosely disguised to protect the innocent.


Nancy said...

What is the architectural structure? And who is that cute guy at the base of the teddy bear?

Cerise said...

Ahh... hover for captions!

lorin said...

It seems like I run into someone who knows you (or someone mentions they know both of us) like once every other month. Most recently in November:

I'm at Central Salem SDA church, and the pastor's wife, who I've known for about a decade, mentions that her daughter, who's in college somewhere in the Midwest, ran into someone who knows me. "Her name was Carrie," said the pastor's wife.

I thought... Carrie? Keri? Kari? Kerry? I know several people with a variety of spellings of that name, but couldn't think of any Carries who would know I lived in Salem.

Suddenly it hit me--"Ceri?" I asked.
"Could have been."

The daughter is named Ellen. Ring a bell?

Cerise said...

If anyone's better-connected than me in those circles, Lorin, it has to be you! I've been trying for a connection on the pastor's daughter thing, but am so far drawing a blank...