I Believe in the Statistically Improbable
I was sitting alone in the LBJ outdoor amphitheater studying my Communications 1310 notes when I felt a tap on the shoulder. I looked up to see a terribly attractive young man with magnetic blue eyes and dirty-blonde hair that fell down to the middle of his back. He asked me if I cared share a cigarette and a conversation. I got a better look at the guy with the long hair, and something about him struck me. It wasn’t a romantic feeling, but a curiosity. I knew that I recognized him from some place familiar. I got a split-second déj– vu of seeing the same young man with long hair and a tattoo covering half his chest sitting on a picnic table, magnetic blue eyes staring out into space. It took me awhile to finally place where I recognized him from, but I eventually realized that he lived in the same apartment complex as my boyfriend. His name was Dustin.
“Don’t you know who I am?” I asked hopefully. “Well, no…Am I supposed to know who you are?” he replied with a look of confusion on his face. I told him about how I had seen him sitting outside of his apartment on most nights that I visited my boyfriend, and we laughed about the remarkably low odds of our situation. I waved goodbye and walked away, looking back once more and smiling at the ridiculous coincidence of a person that I had just met. What were the chances of Dustin unknowingly picking his neighbor’s girlfriend to talk to out of a crowd of strangers?
Over the next few weeks, my three-year relationship with my boyfriend finally collapsed. Soon after, Dustin and I became inseparable. There were no social barriers with him. We skipped the small talk. I cursed in front of him on our first date and he was completely unaffected. Through a series of other extremely improbable and odd coincidences, such as the fact that we are both English majors and have a mutual obsession with Anthony Burgess, our friendship has only strengthened over time.
There are roughly 27,000 students at the university I attend in San Marcos, Texas, and approximately 30,000 citizens in the town of San Marcos altogether. I’ve recently begun to spend more time thinking about how many random strangers I pass in a given day, and the extremely low statistics of bumping into a stranger I’ve passed by before and developing a relationship or friendship with one of them, much less developing a friendship with someone whose personality is close to a mirror image of my own. I was never very analytical about this subject until the day I met Dustin. I still sit and think about the fact that I had been in the direct vicinity of a future best friend for days, upon weeks, upon months when visiting my ex-boyfriend at his apartment complex, and never had I expected to fall into this stranger and discover a wonderful friendship, in spite of the fact that we were both just faces in a crowd, and two in twenty-seven thousand.
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