Esther cleans my office. Every day she comes in to either empty trash, vacuum, dust or collect recyclables. She is a loud, funny Polish lady from the east side, and is probably in her late fifties. She often talks about the lottery. Today she asked me if I wanted to buy a raffle ticket. I got out a dollar and she gave me the ticket to fill out. I put my name, address and phone on it. There was a space on the ticket where you fill in the seller’s name. I asked Esther her last name. She told me. I asked her to repeat it, then spell it. Holy smokes, could it be?
It turns out Esther is Rick’s mother. I used to hang out with Rick when I was in high school. While he was not my boyfriend, he did spend some time at my house. I have photos of him wearing my dad’s pajamas. In fact, my dad caught us sleeping together and wasn’t too happy about it. I told you, we were sleeping, he was not my boyfriend. I might have wished he was, but that’s not the point. Try explaining that to your dad. My dad sure didn’t like him anyway, partly because Rick was from the city. We lived in the suburbs.
I met Rick because he was friends with John, who was my friend Jocelyn’s boyfriend. Jocelyn lived about ten houses away from me. She’d met John at a group home she’d been sent to for being truant from school. She and John had two kids together – a girl, and then two years later, a boy. Jocelyn was fifteen when she had Crissy. The boy was given up for adoption, as they had pretty much split up by then. John was a real trouble maker and was in and out of jail. Rick himself had two kids by the time he was twenty.
I never kept in touch with Jocelyn or Rick after high school. I left the area for a while and when I returned I never re-initiated regular contact with them. (I had enough trouble of my own back then and didn’t need to add more losers to my life.) They must still be friends though, and I was surprised to hear that Jocelyn calls Esther to chat fairly often. I am blown away. Not only about the ‘this is a really small town’ coincidence and getting news about people I haven’t seen in nearly twenty years, but even more surprising is that both Jocelyn and Rick are grandparents now. They are my age. Jocelyn was a grandparent at 36, Rick at 37. When Esther told me that I almost fell off my chair.