Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Degrees of separation

My husband was born in Wisconsin. My college roommate was from Wisconsin. I've never been to Wisconsin or anywhere near it, really. Apparently, it's a very, very small place.

Last winter, my mother-in-law and I were chatting as we drove through the dreary Nevada wastelands to get to the dreary wastelands of Utah. I mentioned that my college roommate was from a little town in Wisconsin called Grafton and asked if she had ever heard of it.

"Nope. Doesn't ring a bell. Must be a very small town."

"I think so. But I understand the ward and stake boundaries out there are huge, so I thought maybe it would have been in your stake or something. It didn't look like it was too far from where you guys lived when Brett was born."

"That's true. But I don't think I've heard of it."

We drove on through the unchanging scenery, each lost in our own thoughts.

"Wait!" she cries, causing me to almost veer off the freeway. "Did you say 'Grafton'?"

"Yes. So you've heard of it?"

"Of course, it wasn't too far from where we lived when Brett was born! They were in our ward! I thought you said 'Brafton' at first."

"Well, my roommate was Miranda. Miranda M******. But everyone called her Mandy. She about my age so she would have been a baby when you guys were there. I think her dad was Mike M*******."

"Oh oh! I do remember them! Mike was a big, big guy, if I remember right."

"Yeah! He came to visit Mandy while we were in school and I remember he filled up the whole doorway to our room. Wow. It's a small world. Who would have thought that you were in the same ward with my college roommate's parents when my husband was born?"

Amazing, right? It gets better.

At Sunday dinner last week, the talk turned to delivering babies and the relative merits of taking pictures or video of your offspring being born and the appropriateness of sharing such a record with others. My father-in-law remembered that once in his was a member had brought photos of his wife giving birth to church and had shared them freely with others.

"It was certainly... out of the ordinary," he admitted. "Do you remember who that was?" he asked my mother-in-law. "Was it when we lived in Chicago? Or no... It think it was Wisconsin. Yeah, it was, uhhh... I don't remember his name. But they were related to the J***** family."

"Hey, I know some people named J*****," I chimed in unhelpfully. "But they lived in Provo. They were my roommate's cousins and they used to store her stuff for her in when she went home for the summer. As a matter of fact, mom actually knew my roommate's family when you guys lived in Wisconsin. The M******* family. Come to think of it, my roommate's mom's maiden name must have been J*****, because it was Mandy's aunt and uncle."

"Yup. That's it."


"M*******. That was the guy's name. Mike M*******. He's a really big guy. Very tall, just massive."

"How funny! That's my roommate's dad! I can't believe you knew him!"

"He was a great guy. We went hunting a few times together. Anyway, yeah, he was the one who brought the pictures of his wife giving birth to church."

"No kidding. It makes sense though. I mean, he is a photographer by trade so it's understandable that he'd want to capture and share the moment on film. It's so weird that we can be thousands of miles away and yet still so connected. I only know one family from Wisconsin and they happen to be people you also know. AND you've seen pictures of..."

My voice trailed off. "It just occurred to me," I finally was able to continue, "Those pictures... that baby... That was my roommate. Being born."

So there you have it. My father-in-law not only knows the parents of my college roommate, but has seen pictures of her birth.

Now, if only we could fit Kevin Bacon in this story somewhere...

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