The husband claims that wherever we go, however far we travel, that during the time we are away, I am no further than arms reach from someone who knows someone that I know.
Baltimore challenged that. I was feeling quite alone, though as I am an introvert, I've been quite fine with that. I knew no one. Yes, Niecey and her family were just down the road in DC, and so is my first love of my life (read that as beloved ex-husband), but still, that doesn't really count. So I am alone in a city with few people to talk to or admit we know one and other.
Or so I thought.
It's been confirmed: Baltimore seems to be within my gravitational pull. And surprise, surprise! It's the Shaker Heights and Jewish connections at play:
1) Unbeknownst to us, the family a down the street is the brother and sister in law of one of my oldest and dearest friends from my college days. We knew that Jess's wife had a brother in Baltimore, but we didn't find out where until early November. We had dessert there on Thanksgiving evening and there we met...
2) A young Rabbi and her husband who had just relocated to Baltimore from Arizona. She asks where we're from and we say Ohio. She has cousins in Ohio - University Heights. I tell her I'm from Shaker (next door to UH) and we start talking Temples. Then she mentions their last name, and I say "The candy company family?" She says its one and the same, and if I know them. Know them? "My mother dated Sol's brother Abe for years." The husband rolls his eyes. She says "Abe the Freckle?" It's a Mitzvah! And they live around the corner, too.
3) But back to my friend Jess. Jess and his wife came over after Thanksgiving and we showed them the house and we kibitzed. I knew she was from Buffalo, but she tells me that her mother was from Cleveland. What part? Taylor Road. By the big toy store? Yes! She remembers the toy store. It was really a hardware store but they had the huge room that was double the hardware store where they sold toys. Turns out her grandfather was the Rabbi at Taylor Road Synagogue, better known to the old families like mine as Oheb Zedek. I gave her a book on the Cleveland Jews and she promised to return it. I told her to keep it and share it. "What good does it do anyone if it just sits on my shelf?" My husband turned me and said "you just sounded like your father." OY!
4) We're in the grocery store this Sunday and we have to go to the service counter because we got overcharged for a Sunday Washington Post. There I meet "Abbey". Abbey refunds our our dollar and we start talking. Again, we tell her our story and she says "I was just in Columbus and had a Tommy's Pizza, then we went to Aurora to meet my mother." So we go through the "your from Shaker, I'm from Pepper Pike." So I say "What Temple?" because the Shiksa and the Goyum are not residents of Pepper Pike. She tells me, and I tell her I went there as a child. She starts getting a tear in her eye and says that her mother's cousin was married to the Cantor at the temple and how much her meant to her. And I'm like "Your mother's cousin was Sylvia?" You know them, she asks. Know them, Sam was my father's twin brother. Again, the husband rolls his eyes. And we make dinner plans.
In the car he asks "In the past three weeks you've run into people who know people that you know. How is this possible?"
It's gotta be the Jewish thing, right?