Small, small world

I must tear myself away from obsessively watching the 12 photo slideshow of my dream house which I discovered on my lunch hour today, so in an effort to divert my attention, I thought I'd talk about small world-ism.

The world is a massive place, stuffed wih billions of people. Yet, in my 31 years I've encountered quite a few small world-isms, and heard some from others which make me feel as if the world's population must be rather overestimated. That, and perhaps the world, like my ass, is flat.

My first run in with small world-ism didn't actually involve me, not directly anyway. My uncle was a cop in downtown D.C., and pulled over a man who made an illegal left turn. Upon inspecting the man's driver's license, my uncle noticed that he was from Harrisburg, PA, hometown of amazing, witty, and charming folk. They got to talking, as it transpires, the illegal turner was our family dentist. Of all the cops in DC, he chose to make a wrong turn in front of my uncle.

The other day, again, on my lunch hour, I had a random look at a work-related email that I would usually delete. A name on a spreadsheet attached to the email caught my eye, as it was a unique one that matched that of a girl with whom I went to high school. I do some grade-A stalker googling, and it turns out, this girl, now presumably a woman, is in fact from my dinky wee high school near the capital of PA. She wandered out of our small town, got her PhD from a university down the road from me here in the UK, and is now registered at my university. It would be weird to meet another Pennsylvanian here, let alone an acquaintance from my own high school.

I've saved the best for last, and as it involves a blogger, you simply must pay attention. Soon after I started blogging, I was waxing unlyrical about my life here in the UK. One of my most very favourite bloggers ever, AmyEsq (Amy or those associated with her, if you read this, please tell me if/where you're blogging now - I've had a brain lapse), commented that she was pretty sure she was familiar with one of my photos, that of a pier. We exchanged some emails on the subject, and as it happens, Amy's husband, a young British guy of surely dazzling intellect, went to university in my UK seaside town. The university I slave for. As a matter of fact, he was a student of my department, with lectures in my building! Tell me, does it get more small world-ish than that?

I'm not trying to increase audience participation, but I would like to know of your small world-isms. That way when I'm at a party and can think of nothing to say, I can label you as "my friend" so that I can recount your tale and others can gasp in astonishment at its wonder.


Jen said...

First, my mother was also born in Harrisburg, PA. :) (You see where I get my charm and wit.) Love the DC cop story--too funny!

I always say that I'd be awful in the Witness Protection Program.

1) When I was a Jr. in college, I studied in Spain. Meeting up with other students at JFK, I spoke to a girl, A. Turns out she had been to my home city as part of a high school exchange program--with MY high school, and she had been housed with a guy I'd known since preschool.
2) In Spain, I randomly met up with (a) a girl I'd gone to camp with, several years earlier; (b) a boy from my elementary school; (c) a girl who'd lived down the street from me growing up (the other two were at the university, but this one was during the drunken revelry of Mardi Gras/Carnaval--talk about surreal).
3) In college, I was standing in the Louvre, admiring art work, when I heard someone yell my name--a girl who'd gone to my high school, and who was also, randomly enough, baptized with me when we were infants.
4) I was similarly accosted in the Sistine Chapel, by a friend from school.
5) In high school, my family went to Virginia/DC for a trip. My brother didn't shave, saying "It's not like we know anyone here." Walking through Monticello's underground kitchens, we literally bumped into an old family friend from our home town.

Eva said...

Traveling through Europe in college I bumped into someone from my high school at a hostel, and someone from my college at a museum. I guess Eurailing junior year in college creates a small world.

In the mall of America, I bumped into someone from my high school I hadn't seen in 20 years.

I know there are others but I'm blanking.

electriclady said...

Guy called my apt one night, my roommate thought he was asking for me (the person he was trying to call had a similar name to mine) and handed me the phone, he had a cold and the same name as a friend of mine so I chatted with him for a bit before we figured out it was a wrong number. Anyway, turned out he used to live across the street from where I was then living, had gone to college with someone I knew, and worked with a guy I went to college with (the roommate of one of my best friends).

It would have been a great story if I'd ended up marrying him. Sadly, we went on one date and there was no spark. (Yes, I went on a date with a wrong number. I knew it would make a great story someday.)

kate said...

Um, it's kinda sorta small world, but just more general coincidence, I think, but using google analytics, I discovered that I had a dutch reader, and said so on my blog. Said dutch reader was actually an american studying in Holland, and she shortly thereafter left Holland to return to the US to have a baby. After having the baby, she went back to Holland to complete her studies and happened to arrive in Amsterdam at the same time that I did, more than a year after we first met online, and we were able to meet up in person.

But then while chatting, we discovered that she and my husband had attended the same Dutch language institute in a rural area of the Netherlands a year apart. This institute only accepts 2-3 people from each given country each year, so it is incredibly rare that they were both chosen from the US to attend this program, even if it was in subsequent years.

And then, as it turns out, she grew up in a city not far from where I currently live, and when she comes home for holidays to visit her family, I can catch up with her then as well. So basically, the universe, over and over again, is trying to make sure that we meet and keep in touch. Which is great, because she's a bad ass chica and I'm glad to know her.

Oh and my husband is the king of this sort of thing. Even though I know (/remember/attempt-to-keep-in-touch-with/am-vaguely-acquainted-with) tons and tons of people, and I run into them regularly when I'm back home in Austin, my husband has the uncanny ability to run into people on an international level. When he was overseas studying one summer, he ran into his high school friend at a park in a tiny city hundreds of miles from his home town, and then, that afternoon, ran into another person who studied with him at UTexas years before at that same park. And those are just ones that happened in the same day. This man goes overseas and runs into the most random assortment of acquaintances from the US. I'm beginning to think he's a spy...

And now I don't have to post anything on my blog today, because I've essentially written a post here. I'll just direct readers to see this instead of my own blog...

Amber said...

Have a go at doing a "Friend Wheel" on Facebook -it'll show you who of your friends are also friends with each other. Mine turned up a couple of surprises with friends of mine from totally different groups (and countries even) turning out to have known each other despite the fact that I wasn't aware they'd even met.

I'm not 100% sure this is on topic apart from that it is the kind of thing that also makes you say "well I never!"...or words to similar effect anyway.

elizasmom said...

When I studied in Belgium during college, one of the other students was a guy from Texas who had been friends with my high school nemesis (who lived in Rochester, NY).

One of the other students was really good friends with one of my good college friends.

When I traveled from Germany to Venice that semester, I shared a train car (NOTLIKETHAT) with my gay college best friend's crush object. Given that he had come from Spain and I had come from Belgium, that was about as random as you can get.

On facebook, my old neighbor from Rochester NY, who now lives in Hong Kong, and my husband's best friend who lives Lebanon, went to the same wedding in New Hampshire and are even in pictures together although they don't know each other.

I love playing these kinds of games, the 6 degrees of separation stuff. I am still awaiting the discovery of a small-world connection to Caleb Followill.

B.Mare said...

You know I am a Pennsylvanian, too? I am sure we know some people in common.

Clover said...

When I was in college, I did a summer semester in London. My friends and I went to a concert at Wembley Stadium and as we tried to make our way closer to the stage, we got stuck several times around new crowds of people. In one crowd, the guy had a Mardi Gras shirt on- turns out he lived in our dorm Freshman year.

Caro said...

Someone I worked with in Scotland shared a house with a guy who was at school with my sister, in Norfolk (UK).

Pamplemousse said...

Amy no longer blogs but she is on Facecrack.

Never mind small world crap, umm...dream house..12 slide photos...do share!!!

Uncommon Loon said...

While walking to work in San Francisco one day, I randomly ran into a girl who had been my roommate while studying abroad in Italy. We had lost touch after returning to the states. Sadly, after she moved away from SF we lost touch for a second time, but maybe our paths will cross again someday.

elizasmom said...

Oh, I just remembered my best small-world story:

In high school, I was good friends with this girl, N, but we lost touch in college. 10 years later, out of the blue, I got an email from her and now we're back in touch and visit each other when time allows. The small world part, though, is how it happened: After college, I stayed near the town where my college was and got a job writing for the newspaper there. One day, I wrote a brief story about Dryel, one of those faux-dry-clean products you can use in your dryer.

Well, It turns out N's grandma lived in one of the town that was part of the newspaper's circulation area. She was an inveterate coupon-clipper and clipped my piece on dryel and sent it off to her granddaughter. N got the piece, read it, and noticed the name at the bottom, and remembered where I had attended college. My name is unusual enough that she thought, OK, there can't be TWO people with this same name that have a connection to this town. So she emailed the newspaper and asked them to forward it on to me. I had JUST left the newspaper but was still occasionally freelancing for them so they had an email address on file for me. One forward later, and ta-DAH!

Meg said...

When I started IF blogging, I was reading Em from Eggs Akimbo's blog (she was UK at that time) and I realised her situation sounded remarkably similar to that of my former next door neighbour, who I was getting reports about from my parents. So we had been reading each others blogs for a few months when we realised our parents live next door to each other and we were childhood friends. I still see her out the front with the kids sometimes when I go and visit!

So beat that one!

rockmama said...

This is a slightly off color small world-ism, but when it all fell into place, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

When I was a freshman in college, I worked with a very small community theatre company. The guy I was dating at the time, who also worked with the company, told me a story of something rather racy that occurred at a cast party involving...well, let's just say, an amorous couple, one of whom was lactating at the time. (nuff said, I feel)

After I'd been in the UK 2 years or so, (roughly 10 years after first hearing this tale) I decided to take a Shakspeare class at a London theatre academy. Our class was quite world diverse, but there was one other American in there.

Week 1: I discover that he and I went to college in the same State.

Week 2: I discover that he in fact grew up in the town neighboring the one I went to college in.

Week 3: I discover that he not only worked for the same small theatre company, but knew ex-boyfriend and many other friends.

Week 4: Discover that he is, in fact, one half of the lactating couple. (Not the lactating one, obviously.)

I remember all of the blood draining from his face as I recounted this tale that I'd heard so many years earlier. It was utterly priceless.

Portlairge said...

One month after I moved to the States I spent New Year in San Francisco with my new room mate. We were sitting in an Irish pub one night chatting to the barman who was from a different part of Ireland than me and vaguely knew some people that I knew. After a while he asked if we wold mind sitting with his girlfriend who was visiting him from San Diego as she was sitting on her own while he was working. She was American and as we were sitting chatting she said the reason she had met her boyfriend was through her room mate who was Irish. She said the room mates name and it was the most common first and last name for a female on the island of Ireland. I laughed and said as much but as we talked some more I discovered that this girl was my former neighbour when I was a young girl. I have a picture of her and me with Santa Claus taken in 1971. They moved away when I was 5 but our parents are still great friends.

areyoukiddingme said...

When I moved from my hometown (Chicago) to my husband's hometown (300 miles away), I discovered 1.) The parish priest at the Catholic church in town was my brother-in-law's friend from college and had married my sister and brother-in-law and 2.) My mom's friend's daughter lived a block away. I never ran into anyone I knew in Chicago. Even in my own neighborhood.

I also found an old friend on Facebook because she is friends with a bunch of my high school classmates.