A few weeks ago, I took two-thirds of our children to the grocery store with me while CPod took the other third to the dentist.
As I wound my way past the bananas and peaches, the bread and peanut butter, I kept running into this very nice woman. We made small talk through the store, and then made our simultaneous departures.
A few days later, we took our kids out for hot dogs, and the grocery store lady was sitting in the booth across from ours with her cute teenage son. Also eating hot dogs. Our town is small, but it's not that small.
This made me remember one of my roommates in college. Everywhere we went in Provo, she knew someone. One night, we made her draw a map for us, a kind of Venn diagram with her in the center -- of all the people she was related to, and how they were connected to this person we'd met on campus, and how she dated this guy in high school, whose sister's best friend's uncle was once mission companions with . . . you get the picture. I was amazed at the connections, until I began to think about the people I know, have known, in my own life, and, really, it was no different.
Then I read Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, which I loved. And I found this quote, near the end:
"It is a small world. You do not have to live in it particularly long to learn that for yourself. There is a theory that, in the whole world, there are only five hundred real people (the cast, as it were; all the rest of the people in the world, the theory suggests, are extras) and what is more, they all know each other. And it's true, or true as far as it goes. In reality the world is made of thousands upon thousands of groups of about five hundred people, all of whom will spend their lives bumping into each other, trying to avoid each other, and discovering each other in the same unlikely teashop in Vancouver. There is an unavoidability to this process. It's not even coincidence. It's just the way the world works, with no regard for individuals or for propriety."
I've been thinking about this for weeks now. And every time I go shopping and see the same person pushing her cart through the store who was there last time I was there, I take Neil Gaiman a little more seriously.
This happens in the blogging world, too. Have you noticed? It's a little easier to explain here, though. I mean, we leave much more visible footprints on the internet than we do in real life, and it's easy to find a blog you like, and then look at the ones that the author likes to find more that you like, and pretty soon, you're frequenting the same on-line joints and buying a round of virtual lemonades for the same group of people.
Are you one of my 500? I think you are. I think we all belong to this great, big group of amazing women (and the occasional man) who all hang out in the same blogspots. I think if we all got together in one room, we'd be amazed at the real-life overlaps: how interconnected we all are even though we are scattered across the world.
So. Thanks for being one of the 500 people I keep running into over and over again, for being connected to me in some inexorable way. Just maybe, if we're lucky, one of these days we'll end up "discovering each other in the same unlikely tea shop in Vancouver" and recognize that the virtual world bleeds through to reality with surprising regularity.