Miss(es) and Mister(s) January

Since I did such an abysmal job of counting all of the people that I met in 2014 through my 100 Days 100 People Project, I thought that I should start summarizing that data at the end of each month this year. Yes, I still need to count my 2014 people, but until then, here’s a glimpse at the people I met so far in 2015.

Number of new people met in January 2015: 56

Where did I meet them? January was a busy month for me and had some great people-meeting opportunities. As I mentioned in my previous post, I traveled to Louisville for the AASLH Program Committee Meeting, and you’ve already heard about my serendipitous re-encounter with a stranger that I met at a museum. Prior to the Louisville leg of the trip, I flew into Indianapolis for a very quick 36-hour visit with one of my best friends from grad school. I met her adorable baby M, who is four months old and gives excellent baby snuggles.

I caught a ride to L-ville with a friend from the Indiana Historical Society and as I waited for her at IHS I met some of the new hires there. Once in Louisville, I met several of my colleagues in the field. I also had a chance to meet the manager of the schmancy restaurant Proof, and she told us about the “art gallery” across the hall. This gallery turned out to be the famous Hotel 21C – a cool art hotel in downtown Louisville. Thanks to this nice lady, my friends and I squeezed in an extra hour of adventure during our post-dinner art viewing. On the way home I sat next to an early 20s guy who had forgotten his carry-on luggage inside the airport terminal.

I had my first solo art show at the Ute Pass Library. I met awesome Librarian Lisa and I got to see her sweet little library branch for the first time. At my opening/closing party I met friends-of-friends and several curious library patrons who wondered what was going on.

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Other than that, I met people in the usual way through daily life: guests at a few parties, a barista who got my Starbucks order wrong, congregants at church, new people at work meetings, two art models, etc. I also met Cody, the foul-mouthed middle-schooler who told us to get the *#& off of his school campus when my trainer and I were doing laps around the track one morning.

Favorite People: Baby M, Justin-of-Museum, and Librarian Lisa

Fate

Standing in the security queue at the Louisville Airport, a young guy walked next to me in the maze of stanchions and ropes. I thought I recognized him, which was weird because other than my cohort that I had met with downtown this weekend, I don’t really know anyone in Louisville. He ended up standing just a few people behind me in line and I overheard him talking on his cellphone. “Hi, this is Justin,” he said to the anonymous person on the other end of the conversation. Suspicion confirmed and feeling brave, I caught his eye when he finished talking and asked, “Hi, did I meet you this weekend at the Frazier Museum?”

Yes! And he remembered meeting me too. A serendipitous chance re-encounter for the latest round of my 100 People in 100 Days project!

I am writing the draft of this post from a bumpy airplane ride home from Louisville, Kentucky. This weekend I served on the AASLH Program Committee. It was a great time and I enjoyed being reunited with three of my SHA2013 friends. During our 48 hours in Kentucky we served our field by helping to put together the program for this year’s AASLH annual meeting. Naturally, we also found some times for adventures too including a serendipitous discovery of the 21C Art Hotel.

Friday afternoon I met a friend at the Frazier Museum. We both wondered how the unusual collections of arms and armaments came to be in Louisville, theorizing that Frazier must have been the collector and donor who amassed everything. We walked out the door as the museum was closing and stood in the late afternoon sun for a few moments, gazing at the beautiful building. My friend decided to go back inside to ask how this particular building became a museum space.

I followed him inside and we found a staff member chatting with two guys: a younger man with his hands resting lightly on the handles of the older man’s wheelchair. We patiently waited our turn to talk with the staff member but overheard the two men were asking pretty much the same questions that we had too. Drawing near the little group, we eventually became part of the conversation ourselves. The staff member we met, Jodi, turned out to be on the AASLH local arrangements committee and she was really excited that we had come to the museum. After chatting for about twenty minutes I also introduced myself to the historically curious civilians. The older gentleman’s name is George and he recently moved to Kentucky to live in a retirement home near his son. The younger guy is Justin and he was visiting his family, and taking his granddad/uncle (never sure exactly the relation) out for the afternoon. We all shook hands, said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.

So yes, I was quite surprised to see Mr. Justin-of-Museum walking into the security line at the Louisville airport 46 hours later. What are the chances of someone that you randomly meet in an unfamiliar city showing back up in your life two days later? What are the chances that a fellow tourist that you meet at a museum has a flight back home on the exact same day as you, at nearly the exact same time? And, even better, what are the chances that this stranger you talked to for about 20 minutes will remember you too and the details of that conversation? Crazy!

Justin and I went through security together and on the walk through the terminal I found out that he works in pathology in New York City. He also likes museums, and in fact visited another museum right before coming to the airport. We parted ways with a handshake and a curious feeling that our second meeting was somehow meant to be.

Despite the fact that I recently re-met photographer Larry Marr after a full year, I never really thought about how the people that I’m meeting on this project are processing the experience on their end. I think that I’ve been operating under the assumption that most of the time, I’m just white noise to these strangers and that they pretty much immediately forget about me. Perhaps I’m more memorable than I thought. And maybe I should be thinking a little bit harder about the nature of God’s sovereignty in my daily life.