Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Small world, isn't it?"

"Everyone is connected to everyone else in the world by (fill in the number 5, 6, 7, ?) people." You know the routine. My brother (1) in Saudi Arabia knows a tour guide (2) who gave a tour that included a woman (3) whose daughter (4) was caretaker for a man (5) who once worked for Ronald Reagan (6).

Sometimes you feel like everyone is that far removed. I've been walking the streets (excuse me, it's a small town. That should read "street") now for a couple of weeks, and I long ago gave up the idea that I would see anybody I knew in my previous life in Port Angeles. I'm getting to know the people who live here, trying to remember their names, and enjoying the new personalities that come with the new faces.

The last time I settled in a new town was after graduation from grad school, although it was in the same town I had been raised in, but I had been gone for eight years, so there too I quickly gave up looking for anyone I knew, hoping to find new friends to replace them.

One of the ways I found to meet new friends was to help start a children's theater group (adults acting for kids) which I had done in college, and in Port Angeles I directed the first play (Alice in Wonderland). We had a thrilling time. Casting was our most fun part, especially after we found the perfect Alice (she must have been 18, but looked and sounded like 10. A perfect voice that carried well but sounded like a child) and the perfect Queen of Hearts ("Off with her head!!!" she would shout and we all felt the hairs on our neck raise) who was, by coincidence, in real life Alice's mother. She also was an outstanding artist, and I had to fight off the crowd and claim my rights as director to be able to keep this painting that was used in the play.

Those people welcomed me into their circle like a rising river welcomes a sand bar.

But now we jump 35 years to 2010, where once again I don't know ANYONE. Remember Sean who I mentioned in an earlier blog is going to marry Wendy, the Sean that was so helpful in giving me the "who's who" in the community, the Sean that is part owner in the Gamble Bay Coffee Co.?" I was going to e-mail him to help him find this blog when I noticed his last name was part of his address. And I noticed his last name was the same as "Alice" and "The Queen of Hearts". I asked him if he had any relatives in Port Angeles and he said his mother used to live there and he had lived there as a kid. I suddenly realized he was part of that family. His mother was the Queen of Hearts, his sister was Alice, and HE had been the pest on stage for every rehersal and nearly every performance.

I guess those of us uncomfortable with life in the big city tend to congregate together in these small towns, which is one of the reasons I was given as an explanation for why this happens so often. Perhaps it's because (and I think this is true) people living in the masses find it more difficult to get involved in the community, they are more fearful of the "outside" (meaning outside their own home) and thus they tend to meet fewer people. I don't know. But I wonder what Sean and I would have guessed the number of people that separated us would have been. I certainly would have never guessed "1".

Yesterday I also noticed upstairs in the Post Office building there is a perfect stage facing a perfect auditorium, where a perfect redition of Alice in Wonderland could be performed. Perhaps this fall (certainly not this summer) I might suggest we form a children's theater group to light up the eyes of some kids from the area. Perhaps that will give me a way of meeting more people. Perhaps we could broaden everyone's "fun" quota. That's how it's done in this small town. And I love it.

1 comment:

Beth said...

I disagree. I think people live in small town because they want to have a sense of belonging and be familiar to everyone. Big towns are for people who want to blend into the background and be able to hide from the masses.

How many people separate you from the unwelcome guests from your last post?!