The other day I found myself in a weird place. I was having a conversation with an ex-lover about an ex-lover outside of another ex-lover’s apartment. Ex-lover #1 and I just happened to run into each other right outside Ex-lover #3’s apt., and Ex-lover #1 brought up Ex-lover #2 in conversation, not knowing anything about my thing with #2, and definitely not knowing about #3. Oh the world is small.
The older you get, the more people you know, and the longer you stay in a particular area, the more likely you will run into people you know now and again. There are some people you run into frequently because you live or work near them, or you run in the same social circles. However, even the odds of bumping into those geographically close to you can be quite low.
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Yesterday I met a neighbor, whom I assumed was new to the block. He told me he has lived here since July. In the house right next door to me. How could I possibly have missed him? He is probably the only white person my age on the block besides the girls in my sorority house.
When you run into someone you know from your past randomly, it can be either delightful or painful. One post-Halloween morning, I was doing the walk of shame back to my college dorm, just a few blocks away, and I heard my name being called by an ex-coworker. Not wanting to have a conversation looking the way I did, I continued walking, pretending not to recognize my own name, as if she had had the wrong person. I was just a Gia look-alike…it had been 6 or 7 months since I worked there; I could’ve looked different. It is excruciatingly hard to not respond to your own name, but I successfully made it home anonymously.
And that makes me wonder: How many times do people recognize me on the street and avoid me like the plague, not wanting to converse? I’m certainly guilty of avoiding people. But the thought that others are doing it to you, that you are being unknowingly seen is creepy.
Recently the owner of a certain store said, “I see the rain doesn’t stop you from running outside.” It wasn’t raining that day, so that means he saw me earlier in the week. But he would’ve had to see me from inside his shop (he practically lives there) which is at closest 300 yards away from any spot I’d be running. And he said it was raining, and I run at night.
On the train home for Mother’s Day, I got a text message from a guy whom I haven’t seen in years “Are you on the train?” I thought he was still living in L.A., where he moved from my current neighborhood 4 years ago. He’s not even from my hometown where the train was headed. Creepy. “Yes. Where are you?” I asked. “Look back and to your left.” Next thing you know, he has taken over my seat with his gym-jacked body and won’t stop talking. Which is fine and all, but just reminded me you always have to be prepared for these sort of random run-ins.
As I learned on a little boat ride in Disney World as a child, “It’s a small world, after all.”