If you’re a coincidence non-believer, you may have to adjust your brain for the time it takes you to read this blog entry. Either that or I expect a two page, single-spaced report on just what in tarnation you think is going on here.
I first noticed it in 1986, when, at a high school summer program at Penn State one of my classmates in the program announced, “I know one guy from Brooklyn.” To this, I raised my eyebrows, and replied, “and his name is Dave,” fully expecting this to be another one of those foolish comments someone makes when they find out something about you that actually is not a point in common. No, he said, “his name is __________,” with __________ being the name of a boy I knew, and would ultimately go to the prom with, him with a mohawk, and me in a peach dress I went with another male friend to pick out, and which we discovered only after the fact, did not provide enough coverage up top when I sat down.
Later it would happen again, this time in Massachussets, where the last administrative task I had to take care of at college happened to be rubber stamped by someone who had had my father as her science teacher the year he died. She looked at me, and said, Brooklyn? And she looked at my name, and she said, “Barry Smith was your father, wasn’t he?”
Coincidences follow me around like good luck follows other people.
Several weeks ago I was invited to a friend’s house here in Chile, and there was one surprise guest, who was to be a surprise because I know her, but didn’t know we had a friend in common. I went to answer the door and found instead, another guest, who I also knew, a woman I first worked with here in Chile when I arrived six years ago, and who I last saw in the US consulate getting a visa for her husband so they could go live in the United States. On another occasion, I also had the fortune to meet J for the first time at a party held by a Brazilian friend of mine, and J and I discovered that we shared an ex we were both lucky to call an ex (and who still cruises here from time to time, hey, I see you!). But maybe you’re not impressed with me running into gringos in Chile.
Then what about the time I met a guy in Belize, and a year later met his girlfriend in Portugal? Or the time I was looking through a friend’s photo album in California and found a guy I went to college with in Massachusetts among his photos? Friends who call me and tell me they’ve met friends of friends, or how one of my friends here is friends from home with someone whose blog I read in Angola (sorry, closed to new readers), or when I reunited with my best friend from nursery school a full twelve years later on the B-49 bus that whipped up Ocean Avenue and then Farragut Road, to deliver us to our high school?
Or the time I was coming home from a summer in Spain on a flight routed through London and ran into a good high school friend on the plane who was on her way home from Israel?
Or when, leaving for Buenos Aires I ran into F, (who I dated briefly) in the Santiago airport and when leaving Ezezeia (Buenos Aires) was spied by A, another pretendiente (suitor, if you will)?
I also run into people constantly. In the metro, on the street, up in La Reina, over in La Florida, downtown, in Maitencillo (the beach). There’s a guy named Guillermo who I run into every several months in random parts of Santiago. The the last time I saw him was at Piñera’s celebration party (we were both there to gawk), so we must be due.
Which is why when I figured out that an online friend, who is in the process of moving back to Chile with her family and who I know through my blog, had lived in the very same (smallish) apartment building where I currently live (and fight with the elevator, the kitchen and other assorted ills),it came as only a mild surprise. I feel like if I could do a graphical representation of the places I’ve been and the people I’m somehow linked to, it would be a stained and worn map, with star after star denoting coincidences (if you believe in them).
What can I say? For the most part I’m in very good company. Thanks for joining me on this crazy ride. Until our paths cross again!