One of my favorite things is when I introduce someone to a third party, and that person asks, “How did you two meet?” Very occasionally, it was something mundane, such as working together. But more often, we meet fascinating people — kindred spirits — through almost-freak circumstances.
We’re in Florida now, having just completed a grand adventure aboard our friend Kris’ sailboat. The voyage wouldn’t have happened, if we hadn’t been in a laundromat in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, at the same time.
We were putting our clothes in the washer when the ubiquitous spiral notebook Barry and I carry caught Kris’ eye. He identified us as sailboat cruisers, and the three of us were immediately on common ground. We then had some crazy adventures that involved sea stories, bluegrass music, and a rotgut rum from Newfoundland called “Screech.”
A while later, we headed west to Seattle, and Kris made his way home to Capetown, South Africa. Shortly afterwards, he was knocked off his feet by the woman of his dreams. We’ve stayed in touch by e-mail and Skype. I love talking with someone on the other side of the world for free.
When Kris called to tell us he’d bought a boat in Florida, I was excited to hear that it was just down the road from my Dad’s house. So we hatched a plan to sail with Kris to the Bahamas to meet Lorraine, his fiance, and her 4-year-old son, Aidan.
Pretty cool, given that the three of us met in a laundromat because of a scribble on my notebook.
Taking this chance meeting theme a step further, we met another kindred spirit, Brett, at a party in Seattle. Brett has a beautiful 26-foot Thunderbird sailboat on Lake Washington. One beautiful afternoon last fall, I got a text message from him. “Wanna go sailing?”
That afternoon, I was playing hostess to my Dad, who’d flown out from Florida. Brett was happy to take Dad out for an evening on the lake.
The weather was perfect, and we drifted by Bill Gates’ house and watched the sunset and moonrise. Sometime along the way, Brett said to my Dad, “I have a cousin in Florida who you’d really like. Her name’s Mitzi.”
Dad was curious. He wanted to know about Mitzi, where she lived, what she did. So Brett did the logical thing. In the middle of Lake Washington, he whipped out his cell phone, called Mitzi in Florida, and introduced them.
The result is, when we arrived in Florida, Dad immediately introduced us to Mitzi, a lively traveler with friends all over the world. Mitzi admitted that she had traveled around the world for many years, until one of her children was so embarrassed by his homeless mother that he insisted she buy a house.
Dad also introduced us to his friend Julie, another world-traveler, who was visiting him from Asheville, North Carolina. Not only did we hit it off with Julie and Mitzi, but the two of them found lots to talk about.
To make matters more interesting, Brett was coming to Florida during our stay, as well as my sister Daisy from Oregon. Kris also introduced us to his Miami friend Donnie, who made the boat purchase possible, and who he had met while running a bar in St. Martin. When we arrived in the Bahamas, the introductions were not over — we had a lovely visit with Bob, who lives on his sailboat, Pellucid, in the Bahamas, and takes groups of Boy Scouts on sailing trips. We met Bob because of our Seattle party friends, the same folks through whom we met Brett.
Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I’m aware that there might be a new friend nearby. Life-changing friendships can be found at ice-skating rinks (you know who you are!) or laundromats or parties. There are convergences of sea rescues, parties, and cell phone conversations in the middle of lakes that lead to dozens of new friends. Keep your eyes open, and keep on smiling. There are amazing people out there, kindred spirits, just waiting to be discovered.