In the past few weeks, I’ve run into five people from various chapters of my life. First, there was James. I saw him at the Sellwood coffee shop where he now works while I was babysitting a 10 year old girl I’d just met an hour before. James used to work at a different cafe downtown when I was a walking messenger. He’d give me free bagels and coffee. The time we went snowboarding, he brought an entire garbage bag of day-old baked goods and we were in carb heaven. One of the last times I saw James was a couple years ago when we had jury duty together.
The next crossing occurred while I was gardening for a couple I met through Nextdoor. As I pruned their daphne shrubs, a trio passed by and I realized two of the strolling three were my childhood neighbors. I hadn’t seen the mother in over twenty years. The daughter was my first babysitting charge, back when the hourly rate was under $2/hour.
Later that same day, as I wandered down Hawthorne to Fred Meyer, Chad popped into view. We’ve known each other since the days when I was dating Dan back in mid-college. Chad is an expert at floating the Sandy River.
Mere days after the Chad-sighting, I came across William in Whole Foods. We’d first hung out when he was still in high school (as he is my friend Ady’s younger brother). Over a decade ago, I recall him eating fresh roadkill and attempting to light cigarettes with flint and steel. Now he’s back in town after a recent stint of communal living in White Salmon, and getting work as a massage therapist.
Then yesterday, as I parked my car outside the liquor store, along sauntered Matthew from the IPRC writing program days. After graduation, we’d remained friends and I even hand-drew his wedding invitations. In the last couple years, every time we have a chance convergence we laugh about how it should be really easy to go get a drink some time and yet we never do. Maybe we still will.
I wonder who I’ll surprise encounter tomorrow?
Addendum: I’ll tell you who I stumbled upon the very next day. Ross, a friend and the dad to a pair of kids I used to babysit, was heading toward the D Street Village just as I was departing. Back in the days of hanging out with his sons, we listened to a lot of Los Straightjackets, a manic surf-rock band. And they often wanted me to do my “Polly Pillbug” shtick, which involved a potato bug puppet saying different household objects smelled like ridiculous things.