I went to a show at Schubas tonight kind of randomly. A friend of a friend (who I have enjoyed on several occasions) just sort of up an called me yesterday to see if I wanted to go see this folk trio and since I am always trying to encourage other people's efforts when they reach out to me, I said yes. As it happens, I really like folk music and I think this band - which is made up of a straight woman, a gay woman and a gay man - will fill the niche in my life that Sons of the Never Wrong left went they started to get all -every-song-is-beautiful-but-sounds-just-like-every-other-song-and-I-don't-understand-any-of-the-words and left their whimsical, witty identity behind. This new band is called Girlyman and the guy has lips and a nose just like Genie from PeeWee's Playhouse. But I could get caught up in a mostly entertaining analysis of the evening and that is not the purpose of this blog. The purpose of this blog is to talk about coincidences.
You see, when I got to the concert, just as the opening act was wrapping up, I looked over to my right and there, not looking at me, was my friend Lorinda! She, too, had been asked to tag along to this show by a friend. Our friends did not know each other and neither of us had said anything to the other on Sunday because neither of us knew that we would be spending out Tuesday nights this way.
I like running into people this way. It make the city feel much smaller. More like an actual community. You know, like an island. This has happened to me several times. Some of those times have been in the neighborhood that I live in and go to church in and so I don't count those. But, for instance, Amy lives in one of the northern neighborhoods and as I was riding the train home from yoga one night, there she was sitting in the seat right across the aisle from me! Think of all the ways that we wouldn't have seen each other. She could have gotten on a different car or sat in a seat behind me or been five minutes earlier or later and had to catch the previous or next train.
On Saturday, at the Renegade Craft Fair, I ran into my older brother's friend Steve. This is slightly less crazy since Steve works in design and lives in the neighborhood directly south of the fair. Still, at an event that draws thousands of people, to get a chance to stand with a guy that sometimes comes to our house for Thanksgiving and talk about the dynamics of his band is pretty cool.
Several months ago, I was at a coffee shop in Wicker Park for a show and saw my younger brother's good friend Bob. He had stayed for the show after getting dinner because he saw the guys haul in a Hammond organ and was interested to see what they would do we it. So, we stood around and talked about Daniel.
At a friend from college's 30th birthday party that he was hosting jointly with two other friends that I did not know. When I realized that I had been staring at a woman all night, I asked Erika what her name was, assuming I recognized her from college (only 1800 students makes that totally plausible) but Erika didn't know her. Then it hit me: her name was Amy and we were on the speech team together in high school. I got to tell her the story about how the coaches totally changed their coaching style for the better because of her but after she graduated.
As I was heading to a different friend from college's 30th birthday party, I was dolled up and waiting for my train. This was when I still had a gigantic crush on Motorcycle Boy. (By the way, I don't know that I like that nickname, but I'm kind of stuck with it for clarity of communication.) I was staring off into space and looking fine when the train heading the other direction pulled onto the platform. I was looking at the people inside and my attention was caught by a rather unfortunate-looking head of dreadlocks. They were just getting started and looking as awkward as a new mustache on a 14-year-old boy. Plus, the guy must have had to have his fingers in his hair all the time, twirling them to get the to mat. I had that thought and then went back to staring into space. Then, I heard a knocking. I look up and Motorcycle Boy has pushed his friend with the ugly head aside to get my attention through the window and he waved at me! I was the happiest girl alive.
Let me stress that all of these occurrences took place with people who were out of their neighborhoods and, except for the last one, when I was out of my neighborhood. When I was living on Orcas Island, part of what I loved about the community was that you were bound to run into everyone at the grocery store at some point, since there was only one grocery store. People you didn't like, people you loved, people that you had just met the night before, people who had been shopping in your store two weeks earlier. I was comforted because all of the extras in the movie of my life were familiar to me (3,000 people is not that much more than 1,800). I wonder if these coincidental meetings are evidence that I am finding or creating community at least in a sub-group of the population of Chicago. That would be a sign that I had actually applied the lessons that I learned on the island to life as I live it now. That would be pretty cool.
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