when the world gets smaller

The other morning my sister said to me that my having had a radio interview is functioning for me, a bit like Facebook does for some people. She says this to me because I do not use Facebook or Twitter, or whatever else is being created even as I write this. Because of my lifestyle choices over the years, I am relatively hard to find using the Internet…but in amazingly random ways, a few people have run across me because I was interviewed on this nationally syndicated radio show.

I have been contacted by a couple of people from times in my life, long past, who heard the interview in March. To me, the possibility that someone that I have not spoken with for years in one case, and decades in another, and that someone who lives 1500 miles away, or across the country – the possibility that they might randomly hear a twenty-minute segment on the radio…right when it’s airing…THAT, to me, is astonishing, mind blowing, sends shivers down my spine…THAT is how the world really works. With the seeming randomness of life, and at the same time, the incredible accuracy of that very same life…we connect; I love it, love hearing stories about it. Right now I am experiencing this firsthand and want to share these stories with you because I’m excited, but also because I believe if we all pay more attention, we’ll see that this happens a lot more than we think. That connection that I am noticing at a much louder frequency right now – it exists between us all. What I am describing is really what occurs all the time with just a little more emphasis – so we can see it with more ease; like putting words in bold or UPPER CASE so that we are more certain to really notice them.

The day after the radio show aired, I received an email from the show’s producer, forwarding on an inquiry from a listener who thought maybe she knew me. It turns out it was from a woman that I went to high school with (forty years ago – yikes). We reconnected while I was back down in LA helping out my folks some years back. We have not been in touch since that time…so it’s been seven years. She happened to hear the show as it aired, on her way home, and wrote to them wondering if the woman on the show might be me. Coincidentally, I was headed down to Los Angeles about two weeks later so we actually got to have a visit.

To add another layer of small worldliness onto this connection, I made a post to this web log after my visit with her and my return home, making a reference to loons, and to the movie On Golden Pond, which has recordings of loons playing throughout the movie. It happens that this same friend has been a sound editor for the movie industry since we were in high school. She worked with her mom each summer while we were in school, and then eventually took over the family business. It turns out that she and her mom did the sound editing for On Golden Pond, and as my friend wrote, “I was the one who edited the sounds of the loons in there!…I remember how fun it was to try to find just the right call that Katharine Hepburn then imitated.” SMALL WORLD! Don’t you think?

Next. A few weeks later I received another forwarded email from the show’s producer (thank you Rachel!). This person had also heard the interview as it aired on the radio. He contacted his local public radio station (in Florida), which forwarded his email to The Story, and they again forwarded it to me. This time it was from someone that I met in 1973, just a year after I first moved away from my childhood home, and someone I have not had any contact with since. I had recently moved from Los Angeles, California to Corvallis, Oregon. I was a waitress at an all-night restaurant called The Big “O” (“O” for Oregon State University); orange and brown polyester uniforms (school colors), orange and brown upholstery on the booths. This was also the year that OSU hosted the NCAA wrestling championships. I remember more than once on the weekend of the tournament, standing spellbound and watching enormous collegiate wrestlers eating plates piled high with mountains of good old “burgers and fries”, followed by several milk shakes at each sitting. The amount of food that was consumed, and just the shear size of some of the wrestlers, was yet another story to write home about to my big city friends in Los Angeles. This is where I met this young man, the one who just contacted me …at the Big “O”, although he’s not a young man any longer, nor am I a nineteen-year-old young woman, just fresh from the big city.

Eventually he and I developed a relationship – the first of what I might call “long-term”. Looking back from this vantage point, I don’t know anymore what that meant to me then or even what it means now. Anyway, I met him at the beginning of my adult life. I had no idea who I was, what I believed in, what I wanted to do with my life…I was brand new. And now, thirty-eight years later, he happens to hear a radio show with a woman with my name and wonders…in his email he said, “And as I listened, it sounded just like you.” How can that be? How is it that so many years have passed and who I am now, sounded like who I was then?

This event is staggering to me. Huge barn doors to my life have been thrown open and when I look through them, or walk through them, I am visiting prior times in my life. It’s almost as if I am watching a movie that happens to be a movie of my life. Another part of this that is of great interest to me is that when he and I met, as I said, I was at the beginning of my adult life. It’s not that I am at the end of my life, but I am certainly way around on the other side of my life now. AND, I am currently in a place, where once again, I do not know what is next…I was in a similar place when we first met. I have no idea if he and I will have any more communications than we have already had. That is not the point of all this – the reverberations of our re-connecting, no matter how small or brief the contact, seem to be important in my life somehow. We shall see.

Today I had another reconnection and who knows where it will lead to, if anywhere. Either way, it stopped me in my tracks. Many months ago, as my sister and I were going through some of my parents’ belongings, after we’d sold our family home, we came across a sack of coins that my father had been saving. These were coins that he’d put aside as he made change for his customers in his small retail-wholesale business years ago, coins that he thought might be “worth something”, from the late 1800’s all the way up to the 1960’s. I decided to take on the project of seeing what this sack of coins might be worth in today’s coin market – besides; it’s been fun hauling around a sack of coins in a real, old-fashioned cloth bank bag labeled “Security First National Bank”. Off and on I remember about the bag of coins…or bump into it…and for some reason just in the last two weeks, a kind of timer has gone off in me, and it seems it’s “time” to take care of the coins. I went on a coin shop reconnaissance mission last week to see if one I’d heard about felt reputable, then went and did some coin valuation homework at the library.

Finally, today was the day to take my first load of coins in. In my meandering kind of way, I decided to make one trip for the US coins and then a second trip for the foreign coins…a bag of coins is heavy and I didn’t want to be walking around with too big of a sack of coins all at once. (I often choose to walk onto the ferry rather than driving on, as driving on is expensive and, both driving and parking in Seattle can often be a real hassle. To get to the coin shop, I commuted by bus, ferry and then another bus – a real big-city excursion.)

I am standing at the counter of the coin shop, deep in the midst of this interesting and rather obscure for me, business transaction, when a woman steps into the small store and yells out my name with a question mark at the end. I turn, and there stands a woman that I worked with over ten years ago in a kitchen store in Pike Place Market. At that time, she and I made some deep connections and then life pulled at us and we went our separate ways. I have been thinking about her this week, as the last I knew, she lived somewhere around the neighborhood where this coin shop is located. And here she is. She only has a minute…is on her way to an appointment, so I give her a way to contact me – and she disappears back into the world outside the shop from whence she came. My coin transaction finishes and I mull her appearance over in my head as I wait for the bus in this lovely little spell of early spring weather we are having here in the northwest on the NINTH of JUNE. To me, these kinds of “chance” meetings are little miracles. Really. A lot of layers of timing have to all line up perfectly for things like this to happen. I love it.

Hope you notice one of these in your life. Soon. Miracles happen every day. Don’t forget.