Friday, June 3, 2011

word search

I got the e-mail this morning. He said he found me through google --some sort of alert. His business is business communications and marketing --an Ad man --and he was from Bluefield.

I should mention that I used to work in advertising. I was a copywriter and creative director for a nine station radio company. The company is in Bluefield. I worked there for four years, went to school just down the road and grew up about 40 minutes from the place. It was my neighborhood.

I looked him up. It seemed only fair. We couldn't pass as brothers by any length of the imagination. He's probably 20 to 25 years older than me, but well-scrubbed, successful --a millionaire according to his biography --with a staff working for him to help conquer the world.

Really sort of amazing.

He told me he got these alerts because of my byline, which pops up from time to time. He said he liked what he read and asked if I thought we might be related, but no, we're not related. At least, it seems pretty unlikely. My dad is from Arkansas. I was born in Michigan. We moved around some before settling in Virginia.

Parts of my family tree have been submerged. The roots are obscure and secrets have not been revealed, but instead, have been held tight for generations. A few years ago, I found out I had a cousin who'd been given up for adoption almost a decade before I was born. Before that, I was told that my grandfather might not have been my father's Dad --not that it matters, but there's probably other things lurking in closet behind those moth-eaten winter coats.

I thanked him for reaching out, told him it was nice that someone with the same name was doing so well. It was a fascinating, though probably not entirely rare occurrence. These days, it's very easy to discover dopplegangers and namesakes through the web. It's just as easy to reach out to them.

But I'm the kind of guy who believes more in signs and symbols than random coincidences. I'm just crazy enough to think the universe is constantly playing some ridiculous game of charades with everybody all the time --and this feels like some kind of clue: a man from my neck of the woods with my name --which common enough elsewhere was always rare back in the day -- working in a field I came from, making contact.

Why? I'm stumped. Pat can I buy a vowel?

Maybe I could have been that guy one of these days --if I'd stayed with advertising. I was good at it --diabolically good at it. Maybe I could have been that guy if I'd made a couple of right turns instead of gone left or the other way around.

And I have frequently mentioned that I get mistaken for other people on a fairly regular basis. I always look, sound or remind people of someone else. There's always a cousin, a brother, an uncle or an old friend of a girl someone used to date. It's endless and only a handful of people in my life, outside of blood relations, have ever said different.

I'm mostly at peace with this. There are only so many possibilities out there and while we may all be unique snowflakes, some of us are going to tend to look the same --and besides, it's mostly worked to my advantage. I blend in when I need to and can seem oddly familiar when such a thing is more helpful.

I don't know. It's cool, but it's also pretty fucking weird.

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