Let’s get serious for a minute – (EI! Get over here, this is about us! Bring the iced coffee with you!)
OUR STORY: The Weirdest coincidence of all:
How did two young American women, with no ties to Canada, end up moving to Toronto and meeting each other? Damned if I know.
Ei was driven here by a love of the city, a desire to study, to make films and coffee, and to frolic away, like her fairy-godmother self. I was driven here by an interest in Toronto, a desire to study writing, to write, and to find an urban community where I felt at home. In strangely paralleled stories, we both found what we were looking for. Welcome to the tippiest tip of the iceburg.
Last fall, brand new at the coffee shop where fate would see our friendship unfold, I noticed the prettiest little customer with a cast on her arm. Every time she ordered an Americano she was so friendly and nice. She drank soymilk in her coffee, just like I did. Eileen became a regular I was always happy to see – unlike that other soymilk customer who sends her lattes back for more foam.
It wasn’t just the soy that connected Ei and I. We both had curly blond hair. Ei was also a barista. Around the time of Canadian “Thanksgiving” (a month too early to be thanking anyone, if you ask me), we made a momentous discovery: we’re both American.
Ei’s from New York (where I went to school), and her sister, who she was planning to visit for real Thanksgiving, was actually living in my hometown of Washington D.C. Suddenly we were planning to take the trip together – to rent a car – to split the costs! It was nuts.
Our schedules changed and the Thanksgiving plans fell through. It was ok. Gears were in motion – the wheels of our fated friendship were turning.
We got to talking, and covered all kinds of junk. I told Ei about the crazy beautician who’d just hacked off my hair – the most traumatizing haircut of my life. She told me about the crazy driver who almost killed her on her bike – an equally traumatic event. As our friendship grew Ei and I learned we were developing the same fearful ailment. Strangely, we’d both begun losing our minds. All around us people made references we didn’t understand – told jokes we didn’t get, sang songs we’d never heard.
Eureka – I thought I was the only one who didn’t know Bruce Cockburn!That was when we started to wonder if those “crazy” things were actually “Canadian” things. Together, as Americans in Canada, we made a vow to investigate the differences and similarities between the two countries. Hand in hand with this, we vowed to make sense of the strange, unrelated, things that had been happening. Strange things indeed.
Eerily similar-looking strangers seemed to be stalking us – fleets of redheads came out of the woodwork. Bizarre images began recurring continuously – at least one buttcracked-plumbers-pant would wink at us per day. And if Ei and I were freaked out by these current connections, what we found out about our backgrounds didn’t help: we had the same childhood ice-cream man, the same favorite author, the same creative vision, the same deodorant. The first night I’d ever spent in Toronto - at a random hostel I came across online - happened to be in the exact building where Ei had been living at the time.
If you asked me how many times we’ve said to each other, “That’s crazy,” I’d laugh in your face.
It’s crazy. Are we crazy? No, I don’t think so. Are we oracles? No, probably not. We need to figure this out. Hopefully spewing info at you will do the trick. With her background in broadcast journalism and film, Ei will take the reigns of our podcast. With my background in anthropology and writing, I will yield our pen. (What do you think about this conclusion, Ei? Too much? Oh – Hi Amelia! Tell her I’ll call her later!) Hopefully, as we start recording all this, some sense will come of it all.
It is time. (Disclaimer: invented words will ensue.) Let the documentating begin.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF COINCIDENCE:
Americans, Canadians, Argentineans, Cambodians, please tell us we’re not crazy. Please tell us you too have stepped outside your house and run into a long lost friend - who you just dreamed about the night before - who happened to be driving past the doorstep of your office building, and dropped you off at exactly 11:11.
There are not many beliefs I subscribe to, but I do believe in coincidences. I believe in their intrinsic and unknowable significance; in their bit of magic: keeping you in the dark about their meaning, while sending you on a wild goose chase to find – or create – it.
Why and how are random events and people connected?
I like to imagine glowing umbilical chords of energy shooting from each person’s center, that attach to each and every other energy source. Woah, verbalizing this makes me seem pretty crazy. (Good thing I’m not, huh Ei? – What was that?) The point is, I picture all life forms are connected – and what more evident a connector than the most basic driving force: energy. This is a safe belief for me – because “energy” has no attachment to God, or Buddha, or Jebus (all great fellows, don’t get me wrong, but I like to steer my own steed, if you catch my drift).
Namaste - (translation: “The divine energy within me honors the divine energy within you.” A Sanskrit greeting, brought to you by Lululemon.What the hell do connection and coincidence have to do with Americans in Canada – or anything, for that matter? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s that while we’re all trying to keep our heads above water on this great blue and green planet, lost and struggling, small and alone, we don’t stop to think how we’re connected. Typing on the computer and texting on a phone don’t replace the feeling of entering a room full of laughter – breathing the same air as friends – being penetrated by another human being’s energy beam. We forget that we’re all in this together. We forget what it means to connect.
At risk of having to proofread this ethnographic experiment and jump ship – Good god, I’m not crazy, I’m stupid – I’ll wrap things up. Maybe coincidence – the union of unrelated things – proves links are significant. We’re all caught in a light-beam-umbilical-energy-web, and if we can connect to another life, maybe it will help us better understand our own. Maybe ‘Canadian’ and ‘American’ are nothing more than labels – maybe ‘culture’ is contrived. Or maybe our homelands mold us into different shapes.
Either way, we’re not alone in our experience. There’s something bigger to be found if you look to connect the dots. Two Americans in Canada will be looking from here on out.
A note about our, ahem, story place:
Blogs suck. This is not a blog, even though it is. Which is why we aim to keep entries short – and other multimedia forms plentiful (cartoons, podcasts, video links… you name it!). We know the danger of the internet’s haze, and want to save your valuable eyeballs from short-circuiting. There’s nothing less worth losing your vision over than some stupid American rambling about a vaguely coincidental dream they just had about a nuclear spaceship filled with killer queen bees armed and ready to take over the world from George W. Bush who was somehow re-elected in a non-election year.
We will document, inform, and entertain as best we can in this blog-sphered non-blog, because we don’t yet own a publishing house or broadcast corporation.
Read our blog!