Monday, March 9, 2009

Spotting Kindred Spirits

Have you ever seen someone -- a total stranger -- and just thought to yourself, "That person looks like a kindred spirit. I think we could be friends." ??

I have. Numerous times. But they're total strangers, and just how do you go about approaching a total stranger and saying, "Hey, you look like someone I could connect with, want to be friends?" Okay, an outgoing soul might be able to pull it off, but not me. So I never have the opportunity to really find out if that person is a kindred spirit or not.

Over the past few months, when I've been in town, there is a girl in the choir at church that always grabs my attention. I have no idea why. She really looks no different than every other girl standing up there in the choir. But something about her just draws me to her. "I could be friends with that girl," I would always think. "I just know we could."

Well, my sister is also in the choir so I always intended to ask her who that girl was, but always forgot. But the next time I'd see her at church, I'd think the same thing. And again, after church, it was forgotten.

Well one day a couple weeks ago, I suddenly remembered this girl while I was at home, and I thought, "I know, I'll go online and see if she's in the church directory." And she was. Her name was Alyssa Dark*.

"Alyssa Dark..." I thought. "That name seems vaguely familiar for some reason..." I couldn't place it, however, and dismissed it as just someone I did not know.

The next week in church when I saw this girl in the choir loft again, I thought to myself again, "Okay, that girl's name is Alyssa... Now I finally know..." And then it hit me. I DID recognize that name. I didn't know her personally, but it was the name of someone in a family story I'd heard many times throughout my childhood.

You see, my little sister (Little Girl's mother) is six years younger than me, and when my parents were discussing names for the new baby, I suggested Alyssa if the baby was a girl. My mother loved it, and so it was settled, the baby's name would be Alyssa.

And then another family at church (the Darks, of course!) had a baby and named her Alyssa, and my mother decided it would be too confusing for both girls over the years to grow up together being the same age, in the same Sunday School classes, possibly in the same school as our church ran a school in those days and most of the kids from church attended it, with the same name. So Alyssa was abandoned, and my sister was given another name. I always mourned the loss of the name... I just loved it. When I grew a little older, I began planning to name my own little girl Alyssa someday. I don't know that now I still will, but it's certainly on the list of names I will be considering. The real name, of course, not necessarily Alyssa. :)

Well, when my mother would retell the story of how my sister came to have the name she has instead of Alyssa as she and I had wanted, she always ended it with a sigh. "And then the Darks left the church a few months later, and we could have named her Alyssa after all!"

I personally think she should have gone in and had a legal name change. :)

So... this girl I kept noticing was the very girl responsible for my sister's name NOT being the desired Alyssa! How interesting.

I brought it up that day at dinner. "Is that Alyssa Dark in the choir the same Alyssa Dark that was in the church nursery when Sister was born?" I questioned. My mother confirmed that it was indeed.

My sister was surprised. "I never knew that..." she said. I reminded her of her name change. Apparently my mother stopped telling that story before my sister got to be of an age that she could remember, or it just never meant much to her, because she didn't even remember ever having heard that story before.

But the neatest part happened when my sister said, "I think she must be a kindred spirit... I noticed one time on the choir contact list that her email address had avonleapei in it."

What? An Anne fan in our midst? A big enough fan to actually make it part of her email address?

I do indeed think I've spotted a kindred spirit. And I suppose now that I've moved here and made this my church again that it's time to make contact. Maybe I have a new friend in the wings. :)

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. :)


Lauri said...

I have the opposite experience. My Mom has been known to claim she named me after LIW, but we all know she'd never read the books/watched the show when I was born. However, my parents were having trouble finding a girl's name. Then one of her friends who was a couple months further announced that if she had a girl the baby's name would be Laura. My Mom decided she liked it, and when her friend had a David, Mom decided Laura was up for grabs and named me Laura. Then two years later, her friend had a girl and used Laura. I've only met her a few times, and while most people know how she stole the name, I believe the family it was stolen from doesn't.

The Real Gal said...

I love this, and I have always love a kindred spirit. Something to cherish. Thanks for sharing! Blessings.

Heidi said...

When I was at the university, I remember complaining to my mom that while I had finally found a true Kindred Spirit in my friend, Bettina, in Germany when I was there (ironically my sister's name is Bettina also), that I had never yet found a TRUE Kindred friend in Seattle. I had a few "best friends" in grade school, but never really found a "Kindred Friend". Here I was at a HUGE University and felt rather lonely.

Anyway, in one of my German classes there was a girl I just liked the look of. She was terribly shy and while I wouldn't call myself shy in class or in general anymore (I HAD been terribly shy until high school), I was still very insecure. I WANTED to talk to the girl, but really didn't know how to go about it. As chance would have it, we sat next to each other for the mid-term exam and as I groaned and complained about failing the test, she turned to me and said "Yeah, right! Miss 4.0" because the teacher had read a paper of mine to the class on which I had received a 4.0. She didn't say it is a mean way, just a sarcastic way and with a bit of a smile, which made me want to get to know her even more.

I told my mom about her and wanting to get to know her but not knowing how and my mom encouraged me to invite her over to study and for dinner. (I was living at home and commuting.) I swear, I was SO incredibly nervous about asking her to study with me! You'd think I was asking someone out on a date!!!!!! Well, I finally did it and she did come and study and have dinner with my family and instantly clicked. We continue to be dearest friends to this day. In fact, I would say in my life I've had only two real, dear Kindred Friends -- Bettina is one and my friend, Iris is the other. We may not always talk for months these days (she lives in Portland) but when we do, it's like we live next door to one another and we pick up where we left off last.

So do it. Go up to Alyssa and ask her to coffee/tea or something. I'm so glad I finally did!

PS. I agree, Alyssa is a beautiful, wonderful name for a sweet and charming little girl! Of course, I AM biased. :)