We went to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Burke’s house last evening, at least for a little bit. He and his wife have five grown children, and four were in attendance with various significant others, as well as several friends and their families. It was a far cry from the quiet evenings Ian and I have been spending here in Hogan House (we’re trying to train ourselves to use the actual name of our guest house), but it was a beautiful home (naturally, as it was built by Burke), and the greatroom was perfectly designed to host large numbers of people. New Year’s Eve dinner is traditionally make-your-own pizzas, with crusts and sauce and various other toppings supplied. We brought some pineapple and Point Reyes blue cheese and salami, and our pizzas were delicious. We weren’t entirely in the dark about who the other party attendees were, because there were at least four men there whom we’ve met working on our house (including the one who installed our first Orcas Christmas tree).
One of the builders, introduced to us last summer as a finish carpenter who was slumming it as a framer (albeit a framer using a laser level to make sure our stud walls are square), came by with a young girl, to chat with Ian and me where we were sitting enjoying our pizzas. I had noticed her just before, and idly supposed she looked related to Robert, and then there they were. “Calin,” said Robert, “when Burke and I were in high school together there was a girl named Calin. And this is Cailin,” he said, indicating his daughter. “Calin, Cailin.”
“Do you spell your name C A L I N?” I asked. No, C A I L I N.
“Do you get called ‘Caitlin’ a lot?” asked Ian. Yes, of course, she does. We laughed about some of the things I get called, and how it’s easy to know that junk mail isn’t for me when it’s addressed to Calvin or Colin, but behind the scenes, my brain was doing a rapid-fire calculation. If Burke and Robert were in high school together, and Burke is a little younger than my parents, and Calin is a pretty darn uncommon name . . . “What was her last name?” I asked Robert.
“Marr,” said Robert.
I burst out laughing—the delighted, incredulous laughter that I’ve come to associate with the serendipity of this island for me. “I was named for her,” I said. “She was my mother’s student when my mom was pregnant with me.”
“But she wasn’t from Bellevue,” said Robert. “She moved from Renton.”
“Yes, exactly,” I replied, “my mother taught her in Renton.”
The story I’ve heard my whole life is that my mother had wanted to name me Angela, but my father was not going to truck with any angel for my name. “Let’s name her Calin,” he said. “I like that name!”
“But I don’t like that girl!” was Mom’s reply.
So there you go. Yet another absurdly awesome—and kind of stunning—coincidence; yet another tie with Orcas and our blossoming lives here—this one connecting me back to when I was just a gleam in my father’s eye (and a great, distended burden in my mother’s belly).
I feel like I caught a glimpse, this New Year’s Eve, of a network of forces at play above and beyond our ken. A pinprick image, if you will, of the Interconnectedness of All Things; or at least All Things Calin.