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  • Just like many a novel by Charles Dickens, movies often contain a plot twist based on coincidences that often seem improbable. But in every life, one can usually find at least a couple of incidents that confirm that old expression, “What a small world!”

    I have always loved those random occurrences that shrink a large world into one of next-door-neighbor type familiarity. There are only a few occurrence of this type that have happened to me but I still marvel at them.

    The first one was when I was in college. I was attending a state university 2,000 miles from where I grew up but my grandparents lived in a city a few hours from the school. I was dating a boy that was from that same city and during one of our conversations, it came to light that my grandmother had been his junior high school Latin teacher. Neither she nor I ever imagined that I would end up married to one of her former pupils.

    Another incident occurred years later when I lived in California. I was attending a seminar and struck up a casual conversation with the woman sitting next to me. We got to talking about how most Californians had been born in a different state. When I told her that I had been born in Houston, Texas, as people often do, she gave the name of the only person she knew from that city. It turned out it was a woman who was one of my mother’s best friends.

    The one that still amazes me happened a couple of years ago. I create video biographies for families as a profession and travel all over the country to conduct interviews. One of my interviews took place in Williamsburg, Virginia. At the end of the taping session, my client was asking me about San Diego, where I live. He concluded the conversation by musing that the only person he knew that lived in San Diego was a childhood friend whose acquaintance dated back to when they grew up together in New York City. She had moved to California as an adult and he saw her occasionally at their high school reunion. When he told me her name, I was incredulous. It was the woman who owned the home we had purchased a couple of years prior. I wonder how many other times I have encountered someone whose path has crossed my own without being aware of it.
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