Friday, February 27, 2009

Six Degrees

Several months ago, I got telephone call from a woman who introduced herself as Liz and explained that she'd gotten my name from my friend Cleo in London.

Yep, London.

Turns out that Liz -- who lives right here in Healdsburg -- is a consultant who specializes in organizational development and transitions. (You can read about her interesting business here.) She'd met Cleo online, though Cleo's blog, when she realized that Cleo had linked to Liz's book on women in management transitions. Cleo blogs as the leader of Price, Waterhouse, Cooper's Gender Advisory Council, and writes about gender issues in the global workplace. (It's a fascinating blog -- you can check it out here.) So basically Liz and Cleo have a professional connection, which led to Liz mentioning where she lived, which led to Cleo saying "My friend Diane lives in Healdsburg!"

Cleo and I have been friends for years... maybe 15 years, I'd say. And, funnily enough, we met online. She and I were active in a Compuserve craft-related message board (back in the day when it was all DOS, and Compuserve and AOL were the height of online-connectivity). We not only had crafting in common, but rapidly discovered that we both loved to read and had very compatible taste in books. We started recommending novels to each other, then talking about our lives and families and more. We met in person when Roger and I traveled to London "BC" (before Caroline), and since then Cleo has visited us here in the US a few times. What started as an online, email-friendship became a close personal friendship in which we've shared a lot of personal and professional changes over the years.

So, back to Liz. We chatted on the phone that day, but as I was in the throes of the Month of Migraine Madness, we agreed to meet in person after the holidays and when life calmed down. And, finally, today was the day.

It's a funny thing, meeting someone in person with whom you've emailed and talked but not met face to face before. I suspect many of you bloggers will know what I mean, if you've had the opportunity to meet someone whose blog you follow. There's the simultaneous feeling that you're talking to a friend whose life you know, even while you're looking at the face across the table and it's a complete stranger. It occurred to me, as I entered the Starbucks where we'd agreed to meet, that we'd not talked about how to identify each other. And as I approached the line to order coffee, I heard a woman say to another, "I'm meeting someone I don't even know!" That was her, and we laughed about the fortuity of my coming up just as she said that. Instant recognition.

Liz and I chatted away, and discovered that we have a fair amount in common: many mutual friends, active involvement in the school system (how we didn't meet in that context we can't figure), and an avid interest in reading fiction. 90 minutes flew by as we talked about our professional and personal lives, balancing work and family, living in our community, and more. We exchanged a few book titles, too.

We parted with plans to meet again. It was a wonderful encounter -- and a reminder that the world is a pretty small place.

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