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January 10, 2013 / lynnettedobberpuhl

Coincidence?

When I was a young teen living in rural eastern South Dakota, my mom had to drive me sixty miles one way for my monthly orthodontist visits, which spanned nearly three years. Mr. Wordtabulous, also a young teen at the time, lived in western Minnesota and was driven fifty miles by his mom to the same orthodontist. It is easily within the realm of possibility that we awkwardly checked each other out in the waiting room thirty-plus years ago, long before we met in college. In 2004, we went to Italy and while we were in the small town of Vernazza, drinking wine on a cliff overlooking the Ligurian Sea, we struck up a conversation with a young American couple. Over pleasantries, we found out they were newlyweds and the bride was the daughter of our former orthodontist, roughly 4,800 miles from home.

My eighth grade English teacher read an essay I’d written about my feisty Aunt Phylis and realized that her first schoolgirl crush, twenty years before and 350 miles away,was my first cousin, Bruce.

Returning from our 2006 Germany/Austria trip, we had a short layover in Amsterdam. Standing in line to board the plane to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, I began chatting with the people immediately behind me and discovered they live ten miles from our house.

It sometimes seems we live in a novel, with a finite list of characters engendering unlikely connections. We don’t know what threads exist between us and that stranger in the elevator, in the other lane, or in the news story taped on the other side of the globe. I take it as a cautionary tale against smugly assuming we know how things work, and a gentle nudge from the universe to remember that we are all neighbors. What coincidence have you experienced, and what is your take?

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4 Comments

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  1. kerbear / Jan 10 2013 11:02 am

    Oh wow, that is just funky wierd. We never know when we may encounter angels in the shape of strangers (and sometimes friends or family members) so treating each other well is always the wise course. But meeting someone who has that close of a connection to you, and having as many such encounters as you’ve had makes me think you must have been urged towards a life of storytelling and wonderous monents to share. Way cool!

    • lynnettedobberpuhl / Jan 10 2013 5:25 pm

      I think it is more a matter of my willingness to strike up a conversation with total strangers. It is my theory that we are surrounded by this sort of thing ALL THE TIME, there is just no way to know it until the conversation gets to the connection point. Way cool, for sure!

  2. Kelly Thompson / Jan 10 2013 11:25 pm

    Several years ago, on a trip home from Sturgis, our motorcycle broke down in the middle of the night near a gas station in the middle of nowhere. While the station was closed, the parking lot wasn’t empty – there was a couple there in the same predicament we were in. Noticing they were from my home state, I struck up a conversation with the wife while the husbands worked on the bikes. During our talk, the woman casually mentioned that her husband’s best friend was from near my hometown and that she was best friends with that man’s wife. Turns out the husband’s best friend was my ex-husband and his wife was the woman he’d gotten pregnant while he was still married to me. Some connections are better left unconnected…

    • lynnettedobberpuhl / Jan 11 2013 10:05 am

      As painful as that story is, you have supported my point awesomely. That level of improbability proves that we ARE living in a novel. THANK YOU for sharing this. I am imagining what comes next in your story: awkward silence? catfight? two bodies buried in the field? I realize these people were only friends of the culprits, but please don’t tell me you took a higher road. I am having more fun imagining it my way.

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