January 5, 2002

coincidental chairlift

It’s a crazy, small world. Went snowboarding by myself today, and in the first lift group I rode up with was a sax player with whom I played in All-State and at the Shell Lake jazz camp. As with all chance Dane meetings, he recognised me immediately and it took me a long time (with lots of help) to remember him. I think his name was Sean, though I may have made that up. Deepening the coincidence, it turns out out he had dated Jackie Flis, one of the two Flis Twins/band-nerds from Hopkins. “Sean” is now at UW Eau Claire, studying under a bunch of the profs from the Shell Lake Jazz Camp (though Keezer retired last year). Ogre, a large and hated counselor at the camp who developed an immediate (and mutual) dislike of me, managed to graduate from Eau Claire last year. Last I had talked to Ogre he was on the seven year college plan.

On another chairlift ride, some kids were talking about how awful the University of St. Cloud is. Since I was at that school for All-State jazz, I threw in my two cents on the low-quality of the campus. The gang became worried that I was a student at St. Cloud, but I assured them I went to UMD. “Mike” (99% positive that is his name) said he went to Oshkosh if I knew where that was.

Sure, I said. My aunt and uncle live there, and I’ve got a friend that goes to Oshkosh. Tim Anderson. He loves music, totally down with the jam band scene. Went to Hopkins. Real nice fellow.

Turns out Mike lived on Tim’s floor last year, and they’re really great friends.

This is the best thing about snowboarding alone. On the chairlift you buddy up with complete strangers, and to pass the awkward time you strike up conversation with people you don’t know. Sometimes, it turns out, you already know them.

You just don’t know you know.