Have you ever felt a connection to someone you have never met?
The Initial Spark
Some years ago, in the early days of Facebook, I reconnected with an old high school friend who I hadn't seen since our ten year reunion. He mentioned that he had recently been in my town for business and described some of the local restaurants and stores he had visited. I thought about what I was doing on those days and realized that we may have passed by each other several times without knowing it. It seemed strange to think that this person with whom I had spent almost every day of my youth discussing life and sharing secrets had probably been a few feet away from me at some point and we didn't even know it. Not strange as in uncommon, but strange in that he had been a very dear friend, an important person during our school years, and now we are mere acquaintances. The shift in our friendship dynamic had changed drastically, from inner circle to fringe at best, and only due to the passage of time and space. Although such changes are common, the magnitude of change seemed almost absurd.
Harry and Hermione, kindred spirits
This interaction got me thinking about special connections between people. Some people share in unspoken bond, one that may weaken, but will never completely dissolve, and if they are reconnected after a long separation, the bond will still be present. They get each other. They know each other. Kindred spirits, if you will. Not to be confused with a romantic relationship, kindred spirits connect on a gut-level. No explanation is needed, no words need to be spoken. Eye contact may be the only acknowledgement, but sometimes not even that is required, but simply an awareness that the other person is near.
Soon after, I was sitting at a red light on Main Street, I looked in my rear view mirror and wondered, if someone I used to spend a lot of time with was two cars away, would I know it? What if I could sense the presence of my kindred spirits? What if I knew how and when our worlds intersect and separate, flowing in and around each other? I wondered if my kindred spirits ever thought of me. Who am I to them now? Does that one strong memory of an important event we shared still hover in their minds as well? Or have they forgotten?
While I was writing the early drafts of The Orbiter, I used the term "the pull" to describe the connection Ethan felt toward Carrie. Like gravity, he felt drawn to her, tethered to her by an invisible rope that grew more taught each day. He constantly felt "pulled". I had originally thought about changing the term, perhaps inventing a new word, but in the end, I couldn't find a more direct--or natural--way to describe it without it sounding contrived or pretentious. Simple was better.
"Ethan Fortier remembered everything."
Like some of my favorite first lines that later become poems, that sentence came to me out of the blue. The name came first and flowed easily into the rest. It remains one of my favorite sentence. I like to say it out loud and remember the feeling I got when it first came to me.
The first sentence was the spark of the story that would support the concept of The Pull. At birth, Ethan felt an instant connection to Carrie, and she to him. Ethan's perfect memory kept the connection alive and strong for him, while Carrie's feelings faded with time, as normal memories do. Ethan's inability to forget The Pull both tormented him and gave him purpose. He felt compelled to find Carrie. My hero had a quest. My story had a plot.
It was one of those moments when you can't argue with the Universe. Listen and let it happen. Once I had the first sentence, the next followed immediately:
"Since his very first breath, even before."
The next three or four pages flowed in a deluge of frantic writing. It was exhilarating--the kind of writer's high that keeps me coming back to the pen and notebook. It truly is addicting. Just thinking of it now makes me anxious for more.
In my next post, I will delve into how music played a large role creating The Orbiter.
I write novels and poetry and this blog.