Chance encounters

During our hotel stay, R, Kai, and I shared an elevator with a man. He was probably in his 60s. Looked much like our dads, anyway. He chatted pleasantly with us, and played peek with Kai. Then he told us that, as a hobby, he periodically makes a list of his favorite quotes, prints 100 copies of the list, and hands them out to various people he meets.

As a fellow quote junkie, I was excited to accept his last copy. I can’t wait until I get a moment to read his list and see if we share any of the same favorites. How odd (but cool!) to meet someone who shares my interest in such a random way. And that wasn’t the only chance encounter during our trip.

When I was growing up, my mom was the assistant manager of an apartment complex. One of the residents had two kids – a boy my age, and a girl two years younger than I. I haven’t seen the boy since we moved away. I ran into the girl at a party a couple of years after we moved, while I was back for a visit. The party was in another town, with a friend I knew because our parents were friends. I knew no one at this party — then all of a sudden I looked up and saw a familiar face.

At the time, I thought bumping into her was the most incredible coincidence. I didn’t know the half of it.

She now lives in a town an hour away from our hometown, and works in a restaurant there. Twice she’s been our waitress when we’ve gone back to visit. Each time she recognizes my mother (who really doesn’t look all that different than she did 30 years ago). This time she seemed to remember me, vaguely. It seems surreal to me that after all these years, and the miles between us, I keep encountering this one woman. Once, perhaps, but multiple times?

These experiences got me thinking about the people we meet, and the ones we travel through life with. How they are never the people we think they will be. I had several close friends growing up — BFFs, or so we thought. I no longer speak to them now. My cousins and I were like sisters. Now we are Facebook friends, but we don’t really talk. We don’t really comment on each others’ posts that much, even. I am acquaintances with a few of my exes. Facebook friends with some of my friends from years past. But not close with any of them. Not even “let’s have coffee sometime” close.

My closest friend is someone I met on a message board that I and a group of fellow…oh, okay, I admit it, trolls (but not in a mean way!) took over, after getting kicked off of several other message boards for off-topic posts. A chance encounter that led to IMs, emails, phone calls, a visit, and now texts and the occasional card or gift. I met my fiance, the father of my children and my partner of nearly 10 years, in a bar. I was looking for a one-night stand.

The people I least suspect end up being fixtures in my life. And inspiration comes from unlikely places. I think I know how to get unstuck on one of my books now.

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