Before I offer the rather wildly satisfying anecdote that I want to write about, I need this caveat: there’s a persistent rumour-myth that claims “Jhayne knows everybody” that is patently untrue. There are thousands upon thousands of dazzling people I have never met and will never and, though I find this sad in the same abstract way that birthdays are, that’s just the way it is.
My relationship to this rumour is complicated, as it affects my identity, community, and influence, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. While I appreciate that it allows me to play with social capital in a way that not everyone does, it also flies in the face of my self interest, beating black wings of denial that chase opportunities away. (“Oh, I’m sure she already knows that fascinating person. Spoiler: No, I don’t! But you’re right, I should. Introduce us!). I treat it much like fire, warm and attractive, but requiring a respectful distance. There’s a lot of layers there. Reality – only a vague relative to myth. So it endures, even as I persist in my role as a philosopher-assassin, refuting it to death. And honestly, it persists like most myths because, underneath the hyperblown twaddle, it contains a seditionist seed of truth.
There, now that my denial is out of the way, I’m going to blast it completely with indisputable evidence to the contrary. Probably with a sound like “quash.”
(It’s a terrible thing to share after I’ve just spent a paragraph tearing down the splashy premise this anecdote supports, namely that no one is out of reach of my network, but too bad, I’m new back to this writing thing and I’m going to be a dreadful player until my vibrato returns. There are going to be far too many commas, oblique and post-modern applications to punctuation, unruly mazes of brackets, harrowing mixed tenses everywhere, and wandering, unhelpful, and contradictory mixed metaphors. And you, dear reader, and future me, will just have to suck it up, because this little tangle of connections is just too baroque and delightful not to share.)
So! Livejournal. Bringing it back. Way back. Eight years, maybe. Possibly nine. Somehow I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of a scathingly clever Jewish woman who lived (and lives) in Wisconsin. I don’t remember how I found her, probably Warren, same as everyone else, but I fell in friend-love with her immediately. Here in the present, we’re still friends. We didn’t meet until 2012, but our connection was enough for her to hand-pick me to attend her intimate wedding anniversary party in Madison last year and it was enough for me to put my life aside to better scrimp so I could attend. I probably would have stolen a car to go if the plane thing hadn’t worked out, actually. Stolen a car because it would have been less work than hijacking a bus. This is a lady I’ll hide some bodies for, is what I’m saying. For her or her beautiful husband or their beautiful child because that is how I roll.
She and I, we chat sometimes. We discuss disabilities, recovery, life, bravery, creativity, where to get good chocolate, all the usual things. And boys. Oh my, have we ever. She has hers all nailed shut, she’s set for life, but my history? We once sat in a chinese restaurant in Minneapolis and looked at my shoddy relationships and threw our hands up and despaired for at least an hour. Deservingly so. More recently, though, we’ve been talking about family. Bailing my brother out of jail, my dying parental figure, the trials and tribulations attached to both. (I don’t have many local people to discuss topics thickly smeared with emotion). Except our last conversation, which took an even more unexpected turn than usual. I think I had maybe been catching her up on the latest episode of The Lame MisAdventures of My Autistic Brother when I dropped an unusual name into the mix. (We will, for the time being, name him M, which is the most transparent sort of obfuscation possible. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure why I bother. See: paragraph 4.)
“M!” she exclaimed, “His name is M? Where do I know that name?” I am completely taken aback. That was a lot of excitement. Yes, I replied, jotting in a few background notes. He’s in Seattle; I met him though the people I camped with at Burning Man; we’re in the midst of a surprising flirtationship. She shook her head, dark hair flying everywhere, trying to remember. “There was some drama there, oh hell, what was it? I know that name, I know who that is! This is going to drive me crazy.” My curiosity blazed. There was no feasible way it was the same person. None. But the name!
I stopped what I was doing, nearly holding my breath, fluttering panic hanging in balance with mad delight, waiting in paused dread for the revelation that would either justify or cause everything we had been building to tumble and fall. (Running through me like dark water, in which way had I been gullible this time?) I felt weakened the way rust melts iron. How could these two people, from such wildly different backgrounds, wildly different everything, be connected? I love the impossible, but drama is hardly ever a positive word. They would get along, but how would they have met? I couldn’t think of a way. And she was right there with me, overcome by the absurdity of this strange potential connection.
A few frantic minutes later, it surfaced. I laughed in incredible relief. When I had first met her on-line, years before I ever went to Burning Man or started visiting Seattle, her best friend was S, a woman from New York. S was smart and sassy and fun and completely in love with a boy.
A boy named M.
Two degrees apart, a decade away.
Isn’t the world splendid?
I love it.