Sunday, May 22, 2011

Old Acquaintance Not Forgotten

A new friend of mine is surprised by the large number of old acquaintances I happen to run into wherever I go. Many of these chance encounters are with people I haven't seen for 20, 30, or even 40 years - my best friend from adolescence, fellow students from high school, former neighbors, shirt tail relations, and old family friends. The saying, "it's a small world," seems to be true.  Considering my family has lived in this part of the city since the 1920s, it is as though I have returned to a small town where everyone knows me.

Yesterday was one of those unanticipated encounters. When we returned from a walk to the local garden center, an unfamiliar red car was parked in front of our house. As a woman got out of the car and walked toward us, something about her pricked a memory although I couldn't place her until she said, "Hello, I'm Joanne. Do you remember me?" As soon as I heard her voice, saw her smile, and noticed a signature dimple on her right cheek I recognized her.

Joanne is my sister's cousin. When we were growing up, my family visited with Joanne's at Christmas and in the summer for picnics. I can still recall the Williamsburg wall paper mural in their living room and I have found many photos of everyone in front of various Christmas trees. The last time I remember seeing Joanne was at her older sister Jeannie's wedding in 1966.

As all of us grew up and made lives of our own, we lost touch. In recent years, my sister has reconnected with her father's family and built relationships with her aunts, uncles, and cousins. My only contact has been with her father's cousin and his wife, a couple in their 80s, who coincidentally live around the corner from our house.

This brings me back to Joanne. She turned onto our street after a visit with her elderly cousins and just happened to arrive at the same moment we returned from our walk. Conversation flowed easily. It's curious how a relationship formed in childhood can be entered into again as though no time has passed.

Adding to the peculiar nature of this chance meeting, it seems Joanne's younger sister is dating an old friend I haven't seen for 25 or 30 years . . . and as if that isn't enough, I was named after Joanne's favorite aunt.

The world is smaller than we might think.

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