Small-world coincidences always throw me for a loop. I don’t know why. I suppose it’s that it seems outrageous that in this world of nearly 7 billion people, we can be connected across cities, states and continents, that the theory of six degrees of separation is true. Maybe I’m way too independent and comfortable with anonymity, and such connections are a tap-on-the-shoulder, wake-up call that I’m really not as detached as I think.
But they’re also neat when they happen.
Dave and I worked together at my first job in NYC — along with fellow hard working, hard playing 20-somethings who were taking the NYC PR scene by storm (so we thought). The lines between life and work constantly blurred, which brought an inordinant amount of drama, as you can imagine. But it also forged possibly life-long friendships. I was on the periphery of the main, inner circle: friendly with everyone, invited to the parties, but since I was younger (and more junior), I was slightly removed.
Dave and I worked on many of the same accounts, attended the same events and got to know each other. He’s truly one of the best guys I’ve ever known, though I won’t use the dreaded word “nice.” He started dating a girl we worked with, and I even road-tripped with them down the coast to N.C. one Labor Day weekend. You get to know people pretty well after 20 hours in a car, you know. Those two eventually married and moved to D.C., but divorced a couple of years later. Like most of those coworkers, I’ve sporadically kept in touch with Dave over the years thanks to Facebook.
Four years ago, during my first year living in Charlotte, I found myself at a house party to celebrate the birthday of a friend of a friend. While mingling in the kitchen over the chips and dip (okay… the beer cooler), I met Anna. As we chatted, I learned she and I attended the same undergrad university, worked remotely in the same industry, belonged to the same service organization in town and chose the same school for our MBAs. She was nice and interesting, and I could have chased her down over the next few weeks begging her to be my friend, but she moved to take a job in D.C.
I imagine you can tell what’s coming.
Earlier this week, I signed on to Facebook (a rare occurrence nowadays) and the first item in my news feed was “Dave is now engaged to Anna.” Saaaay, whaatt? My head spun! I didn’t even realize Dave and Anna knew each other, much less were planning to pledge their troths!
Days later, I still haven’t gotten over it.
I’m thrilled for them, happy that such good-hearted, kind people have found each other. But I’m also slightly weirded out by the connection. I’ve gotten used to everyone knowing each other in Charlotte — the ultimate big, small town. (New York has its moments too, believe it or not.) But of all the souls in the tri-state metropolis of Washington, D.C., two people I know from different cities and different eras not only met each other, had a conversation and went on a date (I assume), they want to spend their lives together.
What. are. the. chances.
This isn’t the first small-world coincidence I’ve found, and not even the first that Facebook’s identified. I mean, there was that time my sorority sister and I realized we were both dating the same guy (who also, we later learned, had a live-in girlfriend!). And just last week my mom and I were discussing three different connections between our network of cousins and people she works with. But every time I hear about such an instance, especially one among people I know, I’m stunned.
Is that normal? What could it all mean?
Are you also unnerved by small world connections?
Or, am I just a tiny bit insane?
Wait, don’t answer that.