May 13, 2009

Imagine All the People

As many of you may already know, DH and I met in a summer class in college. When I met him, he very smoothly and slyly invited himself into my exclusive study group where we diligently picked apart each lesson and committed it to memory. And by exclusive, I mean me and another girl (Alicia), and by diligently studying, I mean slacking off, spending most of our time talking about music or men or what we were doing that weekend. Alicia and I agreed, after the class was over, that DH saved both of our grades that semester, since he apparently was the only one who went to a study group, in between his attempts to hit on women, to . . . well . . . study.

I digress. We met together at Alicia's place to study for the final. We decided, Alicia and I, to stop and get some fuel (junk food) for the long night ahead of weaving our way through complicated sentence diagrams. (Don't laugh! You'd be surprised . . .) It started out about the same as all the other times with conversation about non-class-related trivialities, when it took an interesting turn as I offered DH an oreo. He politely tried to say no thanks, but I persisted since I am of the opinion that oreos are not something a person can pass up, being one of the most perfect cookies known to man: gooey goodness with a little crunch. "I can't actually," he smiled, "I've got celiac disease—I don't eat wheat." As I looked at him in wonder, he just nodded, trying to explain, "I'm allergic, I'm a sprue. I don't eat any wheat. Ever."

I had never heard of this. Never! I never even knew such a thing existed. I'd heard of lots of food allergies. My own mother is allergic to apples. Plenty of people are allergic to peanuts. But, wheat? Never—I'd never heard of it. Ok, I know that sounds repetitive, but I just want to make it clear that at the age of 24, I had never in my entire life heard of one single, solitary person with celiac disease—not one.

Then I married a sprue. And suddenly, as if some sort of veil was lifted from my eyes, celiac started popping up everywhere. Now, everywhere I look, I see sprues. It was very Sixth Sense-ish and was only slightly less creepy. First, one of my friends also met and married a sprue right after me. Then, a guy from DH's work was a sprue and invited us to a cooking class at a local grocery store dedicated to celiac cooking. When we went there, we were greeted with an entire room full of celiacs, who live right here in our very neighborhood. Even when we went to Australia, come to find out, they are on the cutting edge of sprue-friendly foods because they have so many celiacs. It really did seem like, there for awhile, I was meeting someone new every single day who had this thing. It was incredible. And it really took me by surprise.

I have to say that I’ve experienced this phenomenon once again, although not in exactly the same way. As I’ve announced here before DH and I are hoping to adopt, and we’ve become pretty involved in learning about and understanding the adoption process. It’s not like I’ve never heard of it before—certainly I have. And I do remember knowing people who were adopted or who had adopted children or were in some other way connected to adoption, but it never really seemed that common. But, once again, I have been taken by surprise. Now, it seems like they are coming out of the woodwork! Just popping up all around us: birth parents, adoptees, parents who have adopted, and adoption advocates. And again, it seems like every day I meet someone new who has a story to tell me.

Sometimes it’s crazy to me to think that they were there all the time . . . people involved with celiac . . . people involved with adoption. I just didn’t see them before. Now I do, and I think it’s great. I guess you never know what you will find unless you take the time to look. And perhaps it’s hard to see if it’s not something that affects your life directly. It’s definitely something that’s taught me to be more aware, to realize that we all have large files of life experiences. Even if you’ve got something rare, like celiac, someone else is out there too, thinking their rarity is an anomaly. Guess what, they’re wrong. Imagine it, all those people. Kinda cool, don’t you think?


Michael said...

Great thoughts. It's so true--we are rarely alone in what we think are unusual circumstances. The cool part is when you can turn around and extend a hand to those who still think they are alone.

Cami and Juan said...

I remember feeling this way when I learned who Babe Ruth was after viewing The Sandlot. All the sudden Babe Ruth was coming up everywhere! Stupid example to your enlightening thoughts, but that's what I thought of.

laurylaro said...

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