7. Serendipity

Unexpected email

When I awake in the morning the first thing I do is check my email to see if anything important related to work transpired during the few hours sleep I typically get.

On one particular morning, I had an email from a name I’d not seen in a while - and the Subject was related to a posting to an online classifieds forum known as Craig’s List.

The person mailing had seen a post in the “Lost Connections” area and was responding, with an email CC to myself.  He was an acquaintance of mine from before I moved to my current location.  He had been stumbling around Craig’s List and found the post and did a bit of detective work to link it to me.

It took me a few moments to clear the early morning cobwebs out of my head and understand what his email was all about.  It included a picture of myself which, if one were to search hard enough, can be located online.  It also included my full name, email address, and a short note to the poster of the Craig’s List note explaining where I could be found, if indeed it was me this poster was looking for.

I tend not to reveal a lot of details about myself and my personal life to others, a few things here and there, to different groups of people.  It’s a personal quirk, I suppose.

Thus, the person who sent me this CC was not entirely sure that the poster of the Craig’s List article was actually looking for me - there were a number of points which overlapped with his knowledge, but a number which did not.

I blinked a few times, still trying to process exactly what was going on.

After another moment or two I found the link to the Craig’s List classified in the email.  The poster was entirely anonymous, there was no name attached, just a simple subject and a request for contact with someone who matched my description based upon various hobbies and other known facts.

At that moment I was about 80% sure that I knew who the poster was, but it seemed so highly improbable that I could not be certain.  The facts the poster knew were really only known by one person, so it seemed likely, but also unlikely.

I replied to the post.  Said hello, that I wasn’t entirely sure who it was, but asked how I could help them.

A number of hours later, I received a reply.  One sentence: “How do I know if I have the right person?”  - a fair and valid question.

I replied about ten minutes later, explaining whom I thought this anonymous person was, and why I thought so.  I corrected a few of the mis-remembered facts from the Craig’s List post, and even offered an explanation as to why they might be trying to contact me.  A bit of Google-stalking on my own found a few references to this person and gave a plausible explanation as to why they might be reaching out to say hello to me.

Obviously, the person was Nook.  She was impressed I remembered so much about her, including even her name, and many of the details of our conversations a decade previous.  She also shared another important point:

 

This might sound crazy... but I often thought about my days of chatting and could never shake the connection I made with you.  You were always so sweet and I could never figure out why someone like you would take the time to chat with the likes of me.  Do you ever wonder why as well?

 

It was like reading the words that were circling in my own head.  I often thought of her, and her name, her real name, was forever linked in my head with our conversations and the person I knew all those years ago.  In my own case, I could never figure out why someone as sweet as she would bother wanting to get to know me, and waste her time on our conversations.

I have no explanation for that feeling of mutual connection that we both had.  Maybe none is needed.  People make connections all the time and wonder what happened to people from their past.   But I think most of us “shake” that at some point or another.  An idle moment of wondering every now and again, but nothing more than that.

In our case, however, it’s obvious so much more was begun.  Nook had found me, twice now, and a door was opening.

There are many things that could have gone wrong with this email based reunion.

Had that acquaintance of mine not found the post, I never would have gone looking.  Craig’s List is unused where I live, and is merely a meme amongst many on the Internet.

Had he not been able to find my contact information, obviously, the link also never would have been made.  Interestingly, Nook never got his email explaining that he thought she was looking for me.  She only received my initial mail responding to the Craig’s List posting.

There’s also another element of timing here which has struck both Nook and I.  I have been in the process of considering a large change of my own again, possibly a new employer, and another faraway land.  Indeed, this is a process that kicked off in the middle of 2009, and for whatever reason I had not yet really pushed things into “high gear” with respect to moving forward.

Had I done so, there is every chance I’d never have been found by Nook.

As an aside, when this renewed communication from Nook started up, I referred to her as my “Stalker” to some good friends.  They found it quite amusing that a (much) younger woman from my past was looking for me.  Of course I never for a moment thought of her that way.  It was hugely flattering to know that she had been thinking of me all these years, just as I have been thinking of her.