You can travel the world and still meet people back home


Time, they say, is a flat circle. And the space? The space is the inside of an old golf ball: a jumble of tightly twisted rubber bands, the random segments touching within the confines of the tight orb.

Otherwise, how to explain the coincidences of the small world that readers keep sending me? For example, last June the District’s Dorsey Davidge was among dozens of people waiting for the ferry to a small island off Portsmouth, NH, called Star. She had never been to the island and had no idea how long it would take. She asked the person next to her. He had no idea either.

“We started chatting,” Dorsey wrote. “He said he was a professor at Penn State. I said, very randomly, ‘Oh, a close friend’s ex-brother-in-law is a professor there. Do you know Edward?’

“He answered, surprised, ‘I’m Eduardo.’ ”

Let us now travel from New Hampshire to Egypt, which Patricia and Joe Howard visited 40 years ago. One day, they dutifully went to the Great Pyramid and joined the line to enter. But once they entered the dark, narrow, crowded passage, they changed their minds and turned back.

“We couldn’t resist the stream of people coming in, so we moved to the side, where an alcove provided a place to wait for a chance to get out,” Patricia, of Mitchellville, Maryland, wrote.

Two other people had taken refuge in the same alcove.

“We couldn’t see each other in the dark, but the other woman said she was from Seattle,” Pat wrote. “I said I lived there.”

They continued back and forth until the woman said she had managed a recreation area in the city of West Seattle called Camp Long.

“I was floored,” Pat wrote. “I used to work there during my senior year of high school in 1954.”

They exchanged names in the sepulchral darkness and realized that they had worked together.

“Once we stepped out into the light of day, even though it had been many years and we might not have recognized each other in a lineup, we knew we were friends and hugged in amazement!” Pat wrote.

Suzanne Beerthuis grew up in Cowles, Neb., a small town outside of Red Cloud. On Saturday nights, her family would drive to Red Cloud to shop, socialize and visit a fresh produce vendor to get paid for the eggs and cream her truck had picked up from their house during the week.

In the office was someone whom Suzanne held in total admiration: the owner’s daughter, a beautiful redhead who was a majorette in the orchestra.

“I always looked forward to the meeting, but was too shy to start a conversation,” wrote Suzanne, who now lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Years later, at the University of Nebraska, Suzanne dated a dental student whose roommate was from Tempe, Arizona. “Once I broke up with the dental student, I never saw him or his roommate again,” Suzanne wrote.

Why did I bother to mention the dental student’s roommate? Because a decade later, while teaching at a Department of Defense school in France, Suzanne took a trip to Berlin. On New Year’s Eve, she checked out the scene at the Officers’ Club, which was adjacent to Tempelhof Air Base.

“As I walked through the base lobby, I couldn’t believe it: the redhead from Red Cloud’s Commodity Station!” Susan wrote.

The woman recognized Suzanne. A split second later, Suzanne saw this roommate from Tempe rushing over. What were the odds of these two disparate people appearing in the same place at the same time?

Then the man said, “Hello, Suzanne! We are celebrating our fifth anniversary! But we are about to miss our plane!

And they fled, leaving Suzanne to wonder how they met.

In 1987, Keith Bickel and his girlfriend, Suzan Onelhad just completed a vacation on Cape Cod before leaving for their separate graduate schools.

“While waiting for the train to DC, we struck up a conversation with a wonderful couple who turned out to be nothing less than the parents of Peter Wolflead singer of the J. Geils Band,” wrote Keith, of McLean, Va.

Three years later, Suzan and Keith were in a tiny trattoria in Florence, where they were celebrating their honeymoon.

“We sat at a common table and started talking to the woman across from us, only to find out that she was the mother of Danny Klein, the bassist of the J. Geils Band! Keith wrote. “As of today, we speak to any stranger on a trip in hopes of meeting even more relatives of band members.”

Few years ago, Noel Sottile went to the Toronto International Film Festival. On the flight home, she exchanged pleasantries with the woman sitting next to her. Noell wrote: “When she asked me where I lived and I said Silver Spring she said, ‘Me too! Where?’ ”

When Noell described the location of his house, the woman asked, “Are you Bilbo owner?!”

It turned out the woman knew Noell’s dog, a friendly rescue from Kosovo who loves hanging out in the backyard, watching the passing scene and waving at people through the fence.

Noell wrote: “I often find people waving at him when we walk by – people I’ve never met but who know my dog ​​as they walk past our yard! My dog ​​has more friends than me.

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