Saturday, November 28, 2009

It IS a small world after all....



There are a couple of things I want to write about and I hope I'm not repeating myself on either one. I happened to notice yesterday that I've written 697 posts so far on this blog. There had been several more but when I 'housecleaned' a couple of weeks ago I got rid of a lot of the 'fluff stuff' that will never mean anything to anybody in my family if they ever read this once I'm long gone. I lose track about what I've written about. Truth be told, I lose track of what day of the week it is. I wake up quite often not even knowing if it's a weekday or the weekend. Then reality sets in and it's ups-a-daisy. Time to get the show on the road. With that said, I might've written about these stories before. Maybe not. But they seem familiar to me. Maybe I've just commented about them on others' blogs when they've written about similar experiences. But bear with me. I think they're interesting enough they're worth repeating. If I am repeating. Which I don't know. But whatever....

On my last post yesterday I wrote about this being a small world and I got a couple of comments from Betty and Donna telling me about their small world experiences. Very interesting, especially Betty's. And Donna's...well, one of the reasons I freaked out a while back on Facebook is I began typing in some names from my past -- parts of my past I don't care to remember -- and I found some of them. I figured if I could find them, they could find me so I deactivated my account. But then I got brave and reactivated it...with a bunch of privacy limits on it. Fear and repulsion will not rule my life.

This is one of my favorite small world stories. I've recounted it so many times I think that's why I feel like I've written about it here before. If I have I apologize ahead of time to my long-time readers but I have always been amazed by it so I'll share it yet again since I've become aware of the fact I have some new regular readers. This first story is related to Betty's comment about being seated next to someone on a plane flight and finding out they knew her best friends in Canada:

My younger brother and his wife are world travellers. They love to bird-watch and my brother has become an amazing wildlife photographer with scores of photos from all over the globe. One of their high school friends had married a man who is an engineer who sets up water systems in Third World countries and while they were living in Zimbabwe a decade or so ago - at least I believe that was the time period, the years zip by so fast - they invited my brother and his wife to come visit. Eric and his wife jumped at the chance and flew to Harare to spend some time there. They took a canoe expedition down the Zambezi River, their canoe almost capsizing because of a herd of wild hippos in the water. They travelled into Zambia to see Victoria Falls. And one day as they rode in a taxi cab thru the city the cab driver asked them where they came from. Since Zimbabwe is something like 90% black and not the most politically stable country Eric said seeing white people was pretty rare. They told the cab driver they came from Vancouver, Washington, and went on to explain to him that it's across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, hoping the man's grasp of geography could picture where that might be. The man lit up like a light bulb! "Portland, Oregon?! Why, that is where my church is headquartered! It is my life dream to go to Portland, Oregon!" My brother is not a religious man but out of politeness he asked the driver, "What church do you belong to?" and the driver told him. Then it was my brother's turn to be astonished. "Why, my sister goes to that church!" And when the driver began rattling off some of the names of pastors, missionaries, etc, who've visited Zimbabwe and several other countries in Africa my brother was shocked to realize he'd heard me mention some of them, too, in the many years I've attended my church! When Eric got home and told me this story I was simply bowled over by just how small this world is.

Now...in relation to Donna's comment about just typing in names on Facebook and never knowing what might pop up, I have a story for that, too. Years ago - in fact, until the internet and email took over - one of my favorite hobbies was letter writing. I got my first pen pal thru a project at school when I was 8 years old. I even remember the girl's name...Cathy...and she lived in Buffalo, New York. My little world was so limited that the idea of communicating with people from all over thrilled me to no end when I was a child. Just as in real life, many of those friendships came and went thru the years. One has lasted for over 30 years without any gaps in between, with the mother of my childhood best friend. One evening as I was browsing around Facebook I got the wild idea of trying to find one of my long-lost pen pals, one I'd had for several years that I'd also become acquainted with thru a school project when I was 14. Her name was Robin and she was 13 at the time. I lived here. She lived in Red Wing, Minnesota. We exchanged photos. We wrote steadily for years. Before the invent of cell phones she'd come out here to visit family in Gresham, I believe it was, and even tho we didn't have the opportunity to meet then she was allowed to call me and we had a phone conversation. When I was 19 I had the chance to visit a friend of mine in Minneapolis and since Red Wing is only 50 miles or so from the Twin Cities, my friend LuAnn told me she'd take me to meet Robin. We set out on a cold, cold day and drove to the fast food restaurant - or was it a dry cleaners' or something? Forgive me...this was close to 40 years ago! - where Robin had an after-school job. As soon as we established we were who we were, we began chatting like we'd known each other forever which, in a way, we had. My friend LuAnn told me later she couldn't get over it, how it was like we'd picked up from nowhere and took off as if we'd just spoken to each other yesterday. I went back home. I got married. Robin got married. We had children...me, 2 and her, 5. We got busy. And busier. Our letters stretched out further and further until they just...stopped. But thru the years I never forgot her. I often thought about her and wondered how life had ended up treating her. Then came Facebook. I still remembered her married name, a rather unusual one, so I typed it in with "Minnesota" in my search and right before my eyes was a photo of someone with that last name who looked remarkably similar to what Robin had 30-odd years ago! And by the young woman's name I was 99% sure she was one of her daughters. So I wrote this young lady a message and I believe it was the very next day I got the confirmation back...yes, she was Robin's daughter and she was so excited! She'd let her mom know I'd 'found' her! To make a long story short...Robin doesn't care to use email or the computer much so guess who is my letter-writing pen pal once again? Yup! She doesn't seem to mind the fact that my letters are typed out because of lack of time and arthritis in my fingers. Time has taken its toll on me that way but as I look at envelopes and letter pages with her hand writing on them I am amazed to think we've been able to pick up where we left off all those years ago. Like there hasn't been that 30 year gap in between.

Like it was just yesterday.

3 comments:

Jeanie said...

Well, I hadn't heard it before, and that is a wonderful story about re-connecting with an old friend.

Betty said...

I heard that second story before, but I loved reading it again. And THAT is exactly why I love blogging so much!!
And that first story about your brother is really amazing! That really shows how small the world is!

Greta said...

Those are great stories. The connection in Zimbabwe certainly was a "God thing"!
I had a penpal in Nebraska for a year or three when I was maybe 10-12. Then when we were on a business trip after we had our first son we were in the town she came from. So I told my husband about her. He asked about her by name at the place he was doing business and they knew her well. They called her up and I talked with her and we met for supper with her husband and 2 little ones. We exchanged a letter or two after that but I was disappointed it didn't continue. Maybe I could find her on facebook but I forget her married name!