Degrees of Separation & Isla Vista

Recently, I’ve thought about chances and lost connections, most likely due to the fact that I’m (still) reading Jennifer E. Smith’s The Geography of Me and You, which is about the story of two teens who meet during a power outage in the elevator of their apartment building and what happens when one of them moves to Scotland while the other goes on a cross-country trip. 

Degrees of Separation

There are moments where things could’ve gone differently, opportunities not taken. With the recent Isla Vista shooting, I’ve thought more and more about chance moments, especially since I know people who went to the same high school as two of the victims of the shooting. It’s strange how our lives are interwoven together, how someone you read about in the news is somehow the friend of a friend of a friend, or even that guy your friend saw a couple times in high school.

A couple months ago, I met someone whom one of my friends badgered me to meet. “You guys are both from New Jersey! You have to know him.” I replied that I probably didn’t know him, after all, NJ is still pretty spread out despite its size and the chances were pretty slim that I knew the guy. Later, I met the guy and it turned out that he lived pretty close to where I lived and that he went to prom with a girl I met at camp. Crazy, huh?

It’s strange how our lives can differ and how close our lives can get just based on one choice. It’s also crazy how only a few degrees of separation exists between people. It all boils down to choices. There’s a really great Jessi Kirby quote from
Golden that I love.

Then there’s a different kind of moment. One when things are irrevocably changed by a choice we make. A moment we will play endlessly in our minds on lonely nights and empty days. One we’ll search repeatedly for some indication that what we chose was right, some small sign that tells us the truth isn’t nearly as awful as it feels. Or as awful as anyone would think if they knew.

So we explain it to ourselves, justify it enough to sleep. And then we bury it deep, so deep we can almost pretend it never happened. But as much as we wish it were different, the truth is, our worlds are sometimes balanced on choices we make and the secrets we keep.”

I know that there are choices that I made that could've gone a different way. Classes that I could've taken, people I could've met, relationships that could've happened but I've made my choices. And I, like most people want to make the right choices. Do the parents of the victims remember moments where their children could've chosen differently and avoided the killing? I don't know, but these are the sorts of questions that the families have to wrestle with. In the meantime, I face the fact that life is oh-so-fragile. When Virginia Tech happened, I was too young to comprehend the devastation of the event but this time, the killing was so close. Too close. 

My heart goes out to the family of the Isla Vista shooting victims as well as the Rodger family. Both have suffered. 


  1. I think about this all the time. It gets pretty mindblowing. Where I'm from it's even smaller, so people really do know everyone through 6 degrees of separation. It really hit me once when Facebook started listing "friends in common", it is very rare for me to meet someone, add them on Facebook and for us to have no one in common, and I only have 300 people on Facebook (I know I say only but I know people who have over 1,000 connections - I try to limit mine to people I would actually speak to if I saw them in the street). For example: my best friend when I was 16 recently got married, I moved away when I was 17 and brought one of my new friends with me to the wedding, the two had never met. A year later my new friend starts dating someone who lives 30 miles away from us, turns out he knows my friend who got married... WHAT?! Happens all the time. Great post.

  2. Thank you! It's crazy how our lives are all connected in some form or another despite how small our circles may seem.


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Maira Gall