News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

July 20, 2011

LIZ CIANCONE: Haven’t we seen you somewhere before?

I’ve heard it said that everyone has a doppleganger — a look-alike — and if that’s true, I suppose that somewhere in the world is a person who looks enough like me to be mistaken for me. Maybe it would take a dim light, or a vivid imagination, but for what it’s worth …

My Best Friend and I were especially looking for dopplegangers as we engaged in “people watching” in airports on a recent trip. In fact, we had only gone as far as Atlanta (where we “enjoyed” a two-hour wait) before I nudged my BF and said, “That guy over there — in the blue shirt — doesn’t he look just like our former mayor, Kevin Burke?”

He agreed. And over the course of the next couple of weeks we had a waitress who looked just like Shelley Long from the “Cheers” cast, as well as encounters with folks we see everyday at home.

I don’t think it’s homesickness, at least not in the conventional sense. We were on the way to visit family in Pensacola, Fla. What we call “P’cola” has become almost a second home to us since we have vacationed there often since the mid-’60s and it feels like our home away from home. Still, the doppleganger theory seems to kick in as soon as we leave the city limits of Terre Haute.

We had a delightful couple of weeks with family and their friends. We misjudged the crowds over the July 4 holiday. It seemed as if everyone in Florida was headed for the beach to enjoy a three-day holiday.

On our second weekend, the Navy’s precision flight team, The Blue Angels, were to perform over the island, and our family lives on the island. They always have a big party for their friends living on the mainland, but if the crowds were bad the first weekend, we could only imagine what it would for the air show.

One guy left home at 8:30 a.m. to arrive on the beach at 11 a.m. This for a 2 p.m. performance. He was lucky. Some folks didn’t make it at all and got stuck on the bridge leading to the island.

We were told there were 10,000 cars on the beach that day. We passed on the air show, but arrived in time to fill our plates and enjoy the company at 5 p.m. when the traffic was all headed the other way.

If we’d looked hard, we’d surely have found dozens of Terre Haute dopplegangers in a crowd like that. But you know it’s time to come home when everyone looks like someone you know. It was time to come home — so we did.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to opinion@tribstar.com.

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