Making connections, building memories

Naomi Saddlemire. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Naomi Saddlemire. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

As much as I dislike falling back on clichés to relay a story, sometimes an oft-repeated phrase sums it all up.

It really is a small world.

Much of Saturday’s One Nation March in D.C. blends together for me as I was interviewing member after member and trying to capture their words, take in the impressive rally, and share these thoughts and emotions with the communications staff back in Latham.

NYSUT President Iannuzzi at one point says, “Clarisse, here’s a laid off member from Wappingers. I think we need to share her story.”

I flip over a clean page in my notebook.

“And what’s your name?” I ask.

“Naomi.” Before she can utter another word, I rattle off “N-A-O-M-I?” – force of habit.

“And your last name?”


I begin to write on my paper, but like a scene from some cheesy movie, I pause with the pen in mid-air.

This name means something to me.

As I struggle to make the connection, I finally look into the face of the woman I’ve been speaking with and my mouth drops open. We both burst into tears and exchange a heartfelt hug.

I haven’t seen Naomi Saddlemire in nearly 15 years. We met freshman year at SUNY Albany. Naomi was roommates with my best friend.

Eventually, we had a chance to catch up and share stories about the last decade. We exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch.

It occurred to me that all across the mall, thousands of people were making connections and building memories to share with their friends and family back home.

I was already happy to be able to share the experience of the march with my mom, a member of the Syracuse TA, and my twin sister.

To be able to reconnect with an old friend was, another cliché, icing on the cake.