I was at my cousin’s wedding this past weekend. He lives in Ohio but the wedding took place outside of Chicago (where most of the family and friends live).
During the ceremony/reception, I saw a girl there… she wasn’t in the immediate family (she was white) but she did look familiar. In fact, the few times we made eye contact, we gave each other those brief glances that said: I know you from somewhere…
Midway through the reception, I thought I figured out how I knew her. I decided to throw it out there…
I was right! (Go me!)
She didn’t know my name but that wasn’t important.
It turned out the reason I knew her was because she was my (newly-married) cousin’s neighbor back in Columbus, OH. When I was *much* younger, my family would visit his fairly often. The kids would play outside and sometimes the cousin’s neighbors would join us, she being one of them.
It must have been 15 years since I last saw her. But she still looked vaguely like her younger self.
We didn’t know each other very well at all but we made some small talk.
We discussed our jobs. She worked in the athletic department at the college she graduated from. I was a math teacher. She said she had a friend who taught math in the Chicago Public Schools. We talked about that for a bit. Teaching in the city is a tough job. I work in a fairly affluent suburb, far away from that world.
After a few minutes of this, I realized I knew someone who graduated from Christine’s university. Not only that, but the girl I knew had been a part of Teach For America and now worked in Chicago. It was a girl I went to middle school with back when I lived in Tennessee and we still kept in touch.
How weird was that?
She said her Chicago friend also fit that description…
My friend’s name was Kim.
So was Christine’s.
I mentioned a last name.
Then there was an eerie silence for a couple seconds.
“Kim was my roommate for two years in college,” said Christine.
So to recap: My friend from 8th grade went to college in another state and was roommates with a girl who had lived two doors down from my cousin.
The first thoughts that I had were: How amazing. What a small world. What are the odds of that?
But when you think about it, was it really that big of a deal?
Surely, there were other people at the wedding party who would know at least one of the acquaintances I’ve met in my life — someone we would never guess we were both connected to.
If you ran an experiment where two complete strangers made a list of all the people they’ve ever known and compared them, I’m sure overlaps would turn up between a large number of those pairings (but I don’t have any evidence to back that up). When you consider the two “strangers” to already have a connection (like guests at a wedding), I would think the “random” connections would turn up even more frequently.
The amazing thing about the connection between Christine and I was that we were able to ferret out who it was.
Very cool. But not all that remarkable.
Now, I’m just thinking of all the explanations other people would give for the same “incredible coincidence”…