Sometime last spring, my cousin Deb who lives in California went to a ladies' retreat in Yosemite, where she met Amy and Sarah, who live in Austin. Being the thoughtful person that my cousin is, she told them that I would be moving to Austin and it would be cool if I already knew some people in town, and so she introduced us on Facebook.
Fast-forward a few months, and I have now met these ladies in real life, found them to be completely delightful, and am so happy that my cousin was thinking of me that weekend.
Fast-forward a bit more... There's a fellow non-trad in my first class of the day (she's a lot more non-trad than me, actually) who was wearing a shirt that said "High Point Youth" on the back. The gears in my head started spinning, because I recognized the "High Point" part... then it dawned on me that those delightful ladies also go to High Point. So I asked my classmate if she knows them, and of course she does, and she asked me how I know them, and I had to tell her the story of my cousin meeting them in California a few months before I moved to Austin.
And this, my friends, is why humans can make some barely-related connections when it comes to location (as annoying as those conversations can be):
"Oh, you're from America? I have a friend in California!"
"I'm from Ohio."
"Is that near California?"
"You're from Scotland? I flew through London once!"
"You have an accent. Are you from Ireland?"
"Oh, yeah? Are you from the place in The Sound of Music? Salt-burg?"
"." (annoyed silence)
But there's always the chance of finding that common ground, slim as the chance may be, so we persist in hunting for it. I had a similar conversation once, in my first week at my last job:
I: Yes, but where in Canada?
C: I'm from Saskatoon, which is in Saskatchewan.
I: Wow! I have a friend from Regina! (also in Saskatchewan)
C: No way! (and a lot of fast talking ensues)
For people far from home, these connections, however thin, are vital. What mattered in this conversation was not that I had a friend from the same state; it's that I already knew a little about her home and was alert enough to ask (kind of like when people ask if I have an Illinois accent-- from this far away, that's close enough). And at moments like these, the world shrinks and is that bit more friendly. And in this particular case, it was the beginning of a happy, happy friendship.