When I first met her it was a few years ago. I was walking home past Café Nouveau and there was some small jazz quartet playing that evening. I thought it pretty slick so I made a point of walking slowly by so I could get a good earful of what they were playing. As I'm crossing the street to head the rest of the way home, someone calls "HEY!" to me (in an 'excuse me, could I get directions?' tone). I turn around and I've no clue who this short girl is coming up to me. She mentions being there to see the band, I note that I thought they sounded good, she said they were, she pointed up along the street and asked how far I was going. "Not too far, but not right away? About two blocks?" -- Odd to have a stranger out of the blue, but I'll just start spilling information like a fact-bucket with a leak if it's someone cute asking. Anyway! She mentions that she thought it couldn't hurt to have someone walk with her for a bit, although she does have "this" in case someone tries something, presenting a switchblade from her pocket. Not in a threatning way, but more just mentioning it. (Really, it wasn't quite as sketchy as it sounds in writing it) We continued talking a bit, and at one point I thought she said, "Actually.." with nothing else. That struck me as odd, and then it struck her as odd that I found it odd. A bit more conversation turned up that she hadn't said "actually" but had said "Ashley" -- her name. We laughed, I introduced myself. We walked a block or so, and she started to hang a right. I was going straight on, so that was that. Later (since I just had to head straight on for half a block, hit a store, and then come back to where I was before) I wandered a bit to try to locate her again, to no avail.
Cut to months and months later. I'm walking home from work and there's someone sitting on the steps of a bank downtown (we have big old 'marble mansion' banks here, by the way. Great sitting spots). Said person calls to me, "Hey there!" I head over, and.. It's Ashley! Seems she was walking through and noticed a pigeon sitting on the steps of the bank and found it odd that it hadn't flown off when she got near it. Matter of fact, it looked like one could just about pet it and it wouldn't fly off. This struck us as odd so we sat for a bit and talked about it (She's named it Lorax). She eventually claimed to have a pal nearby who had an old gerbil cage where she could try to nurse it back to health. I waited by the pigeon as she went and got it. Upon her return with the cage, we realized it might not work out in getting it and trying to recuperate it. She said she'd be going back to Portland (Maine, by the way) the next day so she was fretting over how the bird would be. I mentioned I'd look for it the next day, she left, I went home. (Wasn't there the next day, by the way).
Cut to months and months later. I'm walking to the after-hours bank-window kiosk-thing after work to deposit some money into my account. Cutting through the multi-level parking garage downtown, there are two skate-punks skateboarding around in there. I make a point of taking a detour so I can walk by the skate-punks on the offhand chance that either I know them, or they're doing neat skate tricks (or both). One of the skate-punks does a double-take upon noticing me walking by and starts to lope up, saying "Dude!". Yep, Ashley. She introduces me to her pal as "This cool guy I run into every so often." I explain what I'm up to, we talk about skateboard tricks for a bit, I head off to the bank. Heading back I cut through the garage again, but they're gone.
Cut to months and months later. I'm sitting outside of work (on a fence in the parking lot) and two folks are walking by. A girl with dark hair and a long coat is one of the folks; she does a double-take, heads over, it's Ashley again (this time she gave me a high-five. I didn't do my normal high-five reaction of just looking at the person's hand with distaste -- I find it endlessly fun to do that. Moreso when I follow up by holding up my own hand and sighing with resign). Seems she's planning on moving to Bangor at some point in the next few months.
Cut to months and months later. I'm sitting on the steps next door to work and Ashley comes around the corner. We say our hellos, and she mentions she's moving into this very building.
So I stop over and we get to playing cards and talking. We're just chatting up a storm, comparing the Old Testament God to Gaian notions, talking about music in advertizing, global warming and the dinosaurs, evolution and Henry Rollins, etc.. etc.. Grand old time! At one point, she mentions how small the apartment is, and I mention how it'd seem even smaller with the previous person living there, since the previous person had her kid (and maybe the kid's father) living there as well. Ashely says she knows, since.. (drumroll) ..that was her sister.
Ok, so.. yeah. Seems that Danielle(AKA: The cute girl who was related to me, but only by marriage -- if my uncle Tom and her Grandmother Rosemary ever divorce, there's no relation anymore)'s mother had at least two husbands. One produced Danielle, the other produced Ashley. So she's actually Danielle's half-sister. As far as I can tell, since Ashley's still on the same space and all on the family tree there, she'd also be my first cousin, once removed, by marriage. We found this just a hoot and a half and got to talking about our families, eventually working back to the "normal" topics of hypersensitivity, head trauma, computer repair, etc..