"This is by a wide margin the least likely thing that has ever happened."
-- Leela, Futurama episode "Godfellas"
I'm not normally such a spiritual man, but there is some serious divine intervention going on. Earlier tonight I met up with Andrea, a woman I hadn't seen in nineteen years.
The last time Andrea and I spoke in person was in 1987. There were two Germanies, one Czechoslovakia, and one Soviet Union. The New York Mets were the champions of baseball. There was no World Wide Web. At some point in 1986, somewhere in the vicinity of New Hyde Park, New York, Andrea and I met as classmates at Bright Horizons Nursery School. Something clicked because there were many playdates to follow. I clearly remember pretending that we were dating, and even married at some point shortly after my uncle and aunt's wedding in the summer of 1986. Then in 1987, my parents sold the house and bought a new one in Syosset, across the county but a world away in the fabric of Nassau County's suburban hamlets.
After I moved to Syosset, not once did I ever see or speak to Andrea again.
Interlude: Names in the Paper
One Sunday in 1999 my mom came into the living room carrying a section from that day's Newsday. It contained a listing of all the National Honor Society honorees organized by school. My name was in there along with a few dozen others from Syosset High School. For some bizarre reason my mom read through more of this section than she needed to. She pointed to one column and asked, "Recognize anyone?" Sure enough, there was Andrea's name at the top of the list for her school, arranged alphabetically.
My mom suggested that I look her up. I did indeed look her up using whatever web search engine I was using at the time. After some minimal digging I'm pretty sure I found her e-mail address from a group called "alt.vampyres" that she was active in. Given that I hadn't spoken with her in 12 years, I couldn't bring myself to write any e-mail and I just let the matter drop.
Flash forward to last Friday, November 10, 2006. Over lunch, my co-workers and I are discussing keeping in touch with old friends. I mention this story up until the present day. One impatient co-worker asks, "Where's the happy ending?" I reply that there is none. "Maybe," I offer, "I find her and she's in Maine. I drive all the way across the country and meet up with her again, and we live happily ever after."
A brief pause.
"Wouldn't it be funny if she turned out to be a lesbian?" comes my second theory.
Later that day I decide to look her up, this time employing the Google to do my searching. Lo and behold, the second hit that comes up matching her name is "Lesbian News: The Only Lesbian Blog!" I point this out to one of the co-workers who was at the table, and we laugh about it a lot -- apparently I was right on one of my predictions.
There's more to this story. The following day I'm relaying what I know to a friend of mine when I decide to check out the blog maintainers' profiles. It dawns on me that Dr Drea, a 25-year-old Aquarius who grew up in New York, is probably Andrea herself. What's more, she lives in Seattle.
After revising a draft I submit a deliberately vague comment to the most recent entry:
Dear Dr Drea:
I think I know you from 20 years ago.
I lived in New Hyde Park from 1981-1987, leaving town when i was six years old to move to Syosset. If your initials are A.B. and you grew up in New Hyde Park, I was in pre-school and kindergarten with you. In my senior year my parents were reading the paper one day and pointed out your name in a list of National Merit Society finalists, which they were reading for some unknown reason. My mom said, "you should look her up." I did look you up on-line but I didn't have the nerve to send you an e-mail message.
I recently moved to Seattle after going to college and then working in Pittsburgh from 1999 until this past May. Recently over lunch with coworkers, I was talking about getting in touch with old friends and I thought I'd look you up again just out of curiosity. I could not believe it when I saw that you were apparently living in Seattle too.
I would love to chat with you for no other reason than to ask how the last two decades have been for you.
The following morning at 7:35 AM I get a response. I was right. I've found the first girl I ever held hands with. What's more, she was talking about me in similarly nostalgic tones that same Friday morning when discussing "firsts" with friends. A few incredulous replies later I learn that she lives roughly a mile away from me.
I met up with Andrea tonight at the Garage, a bowling alley, billiards parlor, bar, and restaurant in Capitol Hill roughly halfway between our homes. It was without question the most nervous I've ever been. What do you say to someone you haven't seen since the Reagan Administration?
The minutia of the date itself don't belong in the public eye. What I will say is that I still remember her, she still remembers me, we both suck at pool but she's still better than me at it, and the gravity of how unlikely this situation is is most definitely not lost on either of us.
I'll see her again Saturday.