Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An unlikely friend

If you had told me a couple years ago I'd be sitting in Pike Place Bar and Grill with an Italian physicist named Andrea Chincarini, who's working on a gravitational wave detector in Eastern Washington, I would have laughed. Where would I have encountered such a person? And how is it that without ever meeting face-to-face, we could get along so well? The miraculous invention of the Internet, that's how.

A year and a half ago, I started visiting a beautiful blog, called The Dusty Lens. I found it through my coworker Lisa's sister's blog in New York City, and was immediately enthralled by the stunning photography and poems. The word were so deep, the photos abstract and beautiful, that I began reading the entries whenever they were posted. This mysterious Italian poet/physicist/photographer called "AC" started reading and commenting on my blog as well. We linked to each other's blogs. Thus, through the mist of the Internet, we became distant friends, who knew each other well through words and images.

This blogger hasn't been posting as much lately, and I wondered if I'd ever read his stuff again. A couple weeks ago on Facebook, I saw that he'd be in Seattle, so I invited him to grab a drink, or coffee, or food. We met for sushi at Umi's Sake House, and talked about physics, the little that I do know. I found him to be gentle, down to earth, and interesting. We went for a beer with David and brother-in-law Prasad after that, and spent hours talking about how physics and art collide, how the science brain is the artist brain, how physics and poets think the same way: they are in a quest for the unknown, to find beauty in slices of life nobody else sees.

I had a beer with Andrea Chincarini again on Wednesday night, and we spoke of more casual things: life in Italy, what he and his wife do for fun, that he has 30 bottles of Italian wine in his apartment, which is just steps from the Mediterranean sea. They have dinner parties every weekend, and eat tiny fish whole. They live in this tiny town of Chiavari, and both work as physicists. Andrea studied Tai Chi in China for a month, and visited Australia for a month to work on more gravitational waves there. This person is so fascinating, so deep, that I was sad to see him go. It's hard to meet a new friend, and then they fly home halfway around the globe.

I am thankful for the Internet, in that it can bring friends together. Everyone claims it keeps people apart, and we only interact through the impersonal, glowing white screen. But sometimes, you get lucky, and meet someone in person who you would have never had the chance to interact with. I'm thankful that David and I will now have someone to visit in Italy, who can show us the hidden spots, the truly authentic restaurants, the way of life on the Italian Riviera. And our house will always be open to him. The Internet is magic.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

How incredible. I know Linda really enjoys her time with A.C. I totally agree that art and physics are one--I equate classical piano composition with computer code writing.

Wish I could have met him when he was here.