busy cityIn the era of FaceBook and LinkedIn and Classmates and every other site that allows you instant connection to those that would be long-lost to the past in a previous day and age, there is something so magnificent in the shock of a random encounter with a once-familiar face in an unexpected locale.  Imagine, you are walking down the street in a small village in Romania, and you catch a glimpse of someone through a shop window, and the tilt of their head and angle of their shoulders makes you pause.  Some dusty synapse in your brain flickers in recognition, and you walk inside and there they are, a person you’ve not seen nor even thought of for years.  What are the chances?  It’s almost enough to make you believe in fate.

The more distant the location and connection, the more miraculous this meeting seems.  After all, running into an old high school classmate at a restaurant the same weekend as your reunion is a happy bit of coincidence (or a heart-swallowing disaster, depending on the circumstances), but certainly not shocking.  Likewise, flying to Texas from Boston and discovering you’re on the same flight as someone you met at a college party or networking event the previous weekend is amusing, but hardly earth-shaking serendipity.  There’s already some established common ground that increases your likelihood of a meeting with these people who are moving within similar orbits.

I recently ran into someone I had not seen in a long time, and it got me thinking about some of the more amazing meetings I’ve had over the years.  When I thought even more about it, I realized that four of my most extraordinary encounters are actually linked to one person, the Swedish boy I met in France at age 16, who I still self-defeatingly refer to as the Love of My Life.  And as a logical person with some understanding of coincidence and a more-than-moderate dose of skepticism, I still can’t help but want it to mean something.  Here are those four encounters, in order of occurrence: (more…)