Rich – There’s a theory called six degrees of separation that suggests that all of us are separated from everybody else by six people at most. The idea goes that if you take all the people you know and call that one degree, and then they take all the people they know and call it two degrees, by the time you get to six degrees you will have found a path of friends or acquaintances that links you to every other person on the planet. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but sometimes the sequence of events that brings people from completely different places and backgrounds into contact with each other seems to defy probability. And it seems this happens on an almost daily basis.
Take the trip we just made to the southwestern US, for example. The underlying reason was to be there for the wedding of our friends Mike & Helen in Las Vegas. So you had Sue (Canadian) and me (Welsh, by birth at least), travelling to the USA for the wedding of Helen (also Welsh, but from South Wales as opposed to my North Wales) and Mike (English), a couple we’d met by chance in a line up for a Blue Jays game in Toronto. What are the chances?
We flew to Phoenix from Detroit, after our friends Katherine & Björn offered to look after our car while we were away, and to shuttle us to and from the airport (what nice people!). Katherine is American and from Connecticut, whereas Björn is (former West) German. I met them when we were all living and working in (former East) Germany. We now live less than three hours apart, but in two different countries and on a different continent from the one I met them on. Again, what are the chances?
In Arizona, we got together with Jamie, who showed us some of the highlights of the Phoenix area. If the chances that Sue and I would ever meet Mike & Helen or Björn & Katherine were pretty slim, the path that led to us meeting Jamie and her husband, Tom, is even more unlikely. And yet it happened: My brother, Stu, and his wife, Michelle, introduced us to their friends and neighbours, Alison & Mike. A while later Mike & Ali moved to Ohio, where they met Jamie and Tom. Sue and I visited Mike & Ali last year, and in turn met Jamie (we didn’t actually meet Tom until our recent visit to Phoenix), who has since up and moved to Arizona. If that all sound a bit convoluted, then also bear in mind that Stu, Shell and Ali all grew up in different parts of the UK, Mike is from Tacoma in Washington, Jamie is from Indiana, Tom was born in Vietnam, and Sue is Canadian. Talk about an unlikely crossing of paths!
Then there’s the complex and improbable story of how Sue and I came to be married. I come from a small village in Wales, whereas Sue, although her parents were both born in England, grew up in a small town in Ontario. I first visited Canada thanks to my friend Glenn, who I met while we were studying together at Cambridge. I enjoyed Canada so much, that I arranged to do a post-doctorate in Waterloo in the summer of 1999, where I became close friends with Mike & Shannon. After Waterloo, I accepted a position as a research scientist in Weimar, Germany. But in 2002, I returned to Canada for Mike and Shannon’s wedding, which is where I first met Sue. And the rest, as they say, is history. I’m not sure how many degrees of separation were overcome to bring us together, but it seems the most amazing string of coincidence and good fortune to me!
And as a direct consequence of Sue and I meeting, we both got to meet Jaspa, of course, which has set us all on a whole new journey!