(Following is my column, which appeared in the Tues., Oct. 30th edition of the Devils Lake Journal http://www.devilslakejournal.com/ where I am a reporter/writer. For more info about my hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, visit http://www.devilslakend.com)
You would think after living in Devils Lake for more than six months now, I would have exhausted the possibility of running into people for the first time who know me or my family directly or indirectly.
Not so. I recently went to take a photo for the paper at St. Joseph’s school. When I walked in the door I saw a petite woman standing in the hallway who looked familiar. She joined a small group of us gathering together about the photo. As introductions were being made, she looked at me in surprise and said “Lisa, I used to babysit you and your sister!” and she gave me hug. She was part of a family that lived kitty corner from us when I was little. In fact, one of her sisters works here at the Journal, and on one of my first days here last spring she said to me “aren’t you one of Eddie and Marcia’s daughters?”
I run into lots of people who know my parents. When I went to the eye doctor, one of the workers there used to bowl with my mom. When I went to the dentist, the hygienist knew some family friends of ours who camped with us frequently and this woman used to hear about all our camping adventures. I also run into people who know my sister or my brother or knows somebody who knows my sister or brothers. Once I ran into someone who knew my sister’s old roommate’s ex-husband’s grandmother. Okay I made that last one up.
Sometimes I meet people that I end up being distantly related to – the second cousin twice removed type of thing. Actually, using the six degrees of separation theory, I suppose it’s possible that all of Devils Lake’s 7,000 plus residents are all somehow related to each other in one way or another, so our community is just one big happy family!
As you can imagine, the “I know your brother’s best buddy’s sister” occurred far less frequently in my Big City Life in Denver and D.C. Although it would very occasionally happen, especially in Denver, which is home to a fairly large number of NoDaks. One time I was in line at a grocery store in Denver wearing a UND Fighting Sioux sweatshirt when some guy a couple of aisles over yelled out “Go Sioux!” Another time, wearing the same sweatshirt, I walked into Le Peeps restaurant (which I miss by the way) and a woman talking on her phone said “somebody just walked in wearing a North Dakota shirt.” It turns out she was the sis of one of my DL high school classmates.
So the next time I strike up a conversation with someone wherever I might be in DL, I’ll look forward to meeting more second cousins twice removed.