Like Two Ships That Pass In The Park

shipsinthepark

It was just like this.

“Small world!”

That’s what we say when we bump into someone unexpectedly, or find out we know the same people.  But do you believe it?  Is it a small world after all, or is that just a Disney ride with an incredibly annoying theme song?

I believe.

Susie from Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride is a force of nature in the blogging world.  You may have met her here when she enjoyed the distinguished honor of being Freshly Pegged.  If you’re smart, you hang out at her place routinely.  Although Susie and I are blogging buddies, we’ve never met.  That almost changed recently when we were half a world away from home.

You probably know I took a trip to England a few weeks ago.  One clue would be that I did a post about the royal birth, and haven’t shut up about the trip since.

I didn’t announce my plans beforehand, and it wasn’t until I got back that I discovered that Susie was in the same place at the same time.  Literally.

She and her sweetie went on a whirlwind, “If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium” kind of vacation around Europe.  She marked the trip with a fun game on her blog, “Where In the World Is The Wild Rider Now?”  where she posted vibrant pictures of the sights she saw, and asked readers to identify the places.

I recognized a photo from her last post because I had just been there. When we compared notes, it seems we were both in the Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park, London, probably on the same day.

Not that we saw the same things.

Kensington Gardens are in the front yard of Kensington Palace, the London home of William and Kate, proud new parents of Little Prince Georgie.  Susie observed a gorgeous, sunlit garden by the palace.  Her artist’s eye captured the serene beauty of the place in this lovely photo.  Surely the blooming flowers are a metaphor for the new life to be found within the palace walls?

I snapped my photo at the Round Pond in front of the palace.  Instead of stunning beauty, my eye was drawn to the spectacle of one bird attacking and killing a smaller bird while their feathered friends looked on in dismay.  (That, or they were waiting their turn to get their licks in.  I couldn’t tell what the other birds thought, bird expressions being notoriously hard to interpret.)  Witnessing this in front of the palace after the birth of a new heir seemed, to me, to be another metaphor.  A metaphor for the struggle to the death that has marked the path to the throne for much of  history.

kensingtonkill

Almost meeting Susie in London was “small world” indeed, but it isn’t my most impressive example.

Years ago, my hubby and I vacationed in Rome and had a 1/2-hour stopover in Zurich on the way back.  Since there was no way I was going to be in Switzerland without scoring some chocolate, I dashed into the duty free shop and hoped the plane wouldn’t leave without me.

The store was stocked with expensive perfumes, liquors and chocolate.  I only had eyes for the later.  As I backed up to let my eyes take in the whole, sweet display, I collided with a gentleman who was performing the same appraisal of the liquor selection.  We turned at the same time to apologize and I saw I hadn’t booty-bumped a random stranger…it was my cousin’s husband, Chris.

He had been on a business trip in Italy and took a train to Zurich.  He was killing time in the duty-free shop because his plane home to Seattle didn’t leave for several hours. The “what are the odds” quality of this meeting had us both sputtering in disbelief.

Later I couldn’t help thinking, what if one of us had been doing something they shouldn’t, like having a clandestine meeting with a lover?  Just my luck, I’d be feeling smugly anonymous that far from home, and BAMM! Busted.

My take-away lesson was this; it IS a small world after all.  Not only is God watching, but you never know when you’ll run into someone who will rat you out if you misbehave.

While I’m bummed that Susie and I didn’t meet on this trip, I hold out the hope that we’ll bump into one another someday, somewhere else in the world.  And since I know I would have treated you to a pitcher of Pimm’s in London, that means it will be your turn to buy when we DO meet, Susie.

What was your most memorable “small world” experience?

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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91 Responses to Like Two Ships That Pass In The Park

  1. Al says:

    Hence the toast: “To our wives and girlfriends, may they never meet!”

    Like

  2. Katie says:

    I try to avoid “small world” experiences because it usually involves people from high school I never needed to see again (except maybe at a reunion where I look fabulous and they don’t).

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      That’s so true. But the sad fact is you’re going to run into that old boyfriend when you’re on your way home from the gym, sweaty, smelly and makeup-less, and you stop in the drug store. You’ll be in line, waiting to buy an at-home root touchup haircolor kit and economy box of Little Debbie Snack Cakes when suddenly, he will appear.

      Like

  3. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Here’s mine – I grew up in NJ. In grade school, I had a friend named Daniella. Sometime in middle school, her family moved away and we never kept in touch. Years later, after I had graduated from college and gotten married, my husband and I were exiled to the state of Iowa for a couple of years. One day, I went to the gym. Across the room I noticed a young woman wearing a Seton Hall sweatshirt. Seton Hall is a well known school in NJ, but I’m pretty sure no one in Iowa has ever heard of it. I stared at her like a crazed stalker and yep, OMG, it was Daniella.

    Like

  4. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Oh, and Peg, maybe Susie can give you a few photography pointers…

    Like

  5. How incredible you were both there! Too bad you didn’t actually bump into Susie during the bird massacre! Think of the pictures. Really, that stuff really gives me the chills.

    Your cousin story–it does make you wonder how things could gel so perfectly that you’d both happen to be in the same spot a world away. Reminds me of my story that recently happened this summer:

    I used to be a therapist for autistic children. One boy in particular I was his aide for four years, from the age of 3 to 7. I knew him like he was a member of my own family. We shared an incredible bond that was mysterious and strong. Last time I saw him was in the year 2001 right before I got pregnant and quit my job.

    A few months ago, I suddenly wanted to go on the local bike path for a walk, which was odd because it was raining. My kids and hubby came along but I felt compelled to walk in the opposite direction as them to be by myself. I walked and walked past farms and fields in utter silence when I heard this unmistakable sound. It was the voice of my autistic buddy, I could hear him stimming from a distance. He was riding a bike with his mother and they were coming down the empty path straight toward me! He is now 19 years old. I was blown away that I happened upon him that day, what are the odds? He lives three towns away from me. His mom told me they never had gone down that bike path before but felt the urge that day. The best part? He remembered me! He reached out to touch my face and made brief eye contact (big for him). I still marvel that we ran into each other that day. If I hadn’t gone on the path that day or gone in that direction, I wouldn’t have met him. I do believe sometimes the universe pushes two people together.

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  6. susielindau says:

    Peeeeegggg! This is so great! I love the graphic you made of us. We will have to meet up in real life some day. OKAY! I’ll buy…
    It truly is a small world. We were sitting in an airport bar in Miami waiting for a connecting flight to Spain when I started eavesdropping. The “hot” bar tender recognized the man next to me. It turns out the bartender was a professional model and used to live in LA. The guy next to me was a photographer from London returning from an island shoot. He had photographed him in LA for some magazine a couple of years before! They exchanged cards since the model/bartender needed a new head shot portfolio.
    I’ve run into neighbors while visiting New York City and Cabo. It is crazy.
    Let me know where you are traveling next time. We may be going there too!

    Thanks so much for the shout out!

    I think those birds were thinking, “Mine, mine, Mine, mine, MINE!”

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      We look pretty good on our ships, don’t we? I was going to put a big, fancy camera aboard yours, but it was 1/2 the size of the ship and I was afraid you’d capsize.

      Thanks for letting me class up the joint with your picture. I think I was probably in the park the day after you, but so what – it’s still a great story.

      Next time, when we do meet, I won’t hold you to the offer of buying me Pimm’s. We’ll make it whatever the adult-beverage-of-choice is for that location, hmmm?

      Like

  7. You have some really poetic moments here “Surely the blooming flowers are a metaphor for the new life to be found within the palace walls?” To run across your cousin’s husband…omg…not just an acquaintance or friend…but family member…more awesome than Swiss chocolate!
    On the steps of the American Embassy in Mexico City I bumped up with a high school friend who hadn’t changed a bit. In Quito, Ecuador, in the central plaza I ran into another high school buddy. Who goes to Quito? These have happened and other instances of serendipity…they are fun to remember and remind us that perhaps the world isn’t so scary. My grandmother loved to tell the story of two of her grandsons meeting on the football field…their jerseys both sported the same last name. They went to school in different states and had never met until they noticed the same Dutch name on their football jerseys. It is a small world.

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    • pegoleg says:

      Love that story of the grand-kids – I hope they didn’t end up taking one another’s heads off in the game.

      And you bumping into high school classmates not once, but twice south of the border…what, did you go to a Spanish language school of some sort? Totally bizarre coincidences!

      Like

  8. Elyse says:

    What fun, Peg! Sorry you and Suzie didn’t bump buts with each otheR and little Georgie …

    My most memorable one was when I was living in CT. I was visiting a close friend who I’d met there in central CT.

    Another friend I hadn’t met, Lisa stopped in. She was about to join her husband, David, London for a two year stay. Something she said in imitating her husband led me to ask his last name. Sure enough, I had known him. He was the last guy I dated before my husband. We had parted amicably. We’ve all seen each other in the intervening ummmmmm 20 years. They had a son that they coincidentally named Jacob.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Whoa – you bumped into the new wife of the one that got away? Hope you looked totally awesome at the meeting.

      Like

      • Elyse says:

        The new wife of someone I wasn’t interested in marrying. So it was no problem. But a blizzard coincidence since they met my friend when both lived in Boston. I hadn’t kept in touch.

        I think I was wearing the fashion statement of all mothers of two-year-olds, jeans and a tee-shirt.

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  9. You have such a wonderful style of writing – I’d say “breezy” but that sounds so fake.
    No doubt I would have run towards the birds, too…Are they shrieking “No invitation!” or “Drop the gift at the door didn’t mean THAT!”
    Nature has a way of intruding on the scenery. Infuriates tourists
    Odd about running into people. We were in London celebrating daughter’s end of residency – and ran into a boy she went to med school with previously. He was there with his mom celebrating end of residency. They cheerfully wandered off and nightclubbed all night. Both sets of tired parents were grateful.
    Sounds like you had a great trip. Thanks for letting us flock along

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Aw, thanks for the compliment – I’ll take breezy any day.

      I think the crows were waiting around for a bite, not to be TOO gruesome. They kept hopping around anxiously. I probably missed William and Kate pulling up to the front door with the new baby while all this was going on.

      I was also watching people in the park. Fascinated by not one, not two, but 5 groups of Asian tourists taking pictures at the pond, the most intrepid trying to get a picture of his friend petting a swan. Not smart – those things bite!

      Next up came a family of 4 tall, blond, athletic Germans jogging down the path, Mom frowning while the 12-year-old son whined “but I don’t VANT to run anymore!”

      Couldn’t help thinking that some cultural stereotypes get to BE stereotypes for a reason.

      Like

  10. How could you have been there when you were with me in Rockport, MA managing your own Inn??? 🙂 I love it when I booty bump someone I know, cuz a stranger…not so much. It is too bad that you and Susie did not meet up. You are right, the pictures and blog potential would have been amazing, not to mention two great people finally meeting. “Bird expressions being notoriously hard to interpret”, how do you come up with these hilarious comments??? 🙂

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I left an underling in charge of my Inn while I was on vacation. Hope they remembered to put a mint on your pillow each night.

      Thanks for the kind words. I really was trying to figure out what the other birds thought about this – is it like on the playground where one kid is getting beat up and the others aren’t happy but are afriad to get involved? Or like a mob where they all get into the same mood?

      Like

  11. Pleun says:

    While I was backpacking I decided at one point to go watch the sunrise at the Bromo vulcano. After a hike and climb in the dark (which wasn’t difficult except that at 4 am everything is difficult) I finally made it to the top. And instead of seeing the sun rise, or the lava bubbling down below, the first thing I saw was this guy I knew from my favorite pub of my small hometown in Holland. We both were surprised by that moment and the first thing he said was: another wine then? haha. That broke the ice and we then watched the sunrise together. Weirdest thing though, I never ever saw him again after that sunrise.

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  12. In the immortal words of Tom Robbins, “Everything is connected.” Also, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Also, “Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O.”

    What were we talking about?

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  13. Great chance encounters, Peg! Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…

    I can’t recall anything as dramatic as your story, but not too long ago, I was taking the subway to work after a dentist appointment (read: much later than usual and a different train that I normally ride). In the same subway car was a good friend of mine who was also on a different train than she usually rides. When I think of how often the trains come and that there are 10 cars per train the fact that we both got on the same car at the same time halfway across town, I’m amazed!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      That IS something that would make you stop and take notice. Those people who you know but don’t know really get woven into the fabric of daily life, don’t they? If they’re not where they’re supposed to be, it makes things seem just a bit off-kilter.

      Like

  14. mistyslaws says:

    I’m actually the oppostie of the small world thing. I internet stalk people until I know exactly where and when they will be anywhere close to me, and then I DEMAND that they meet me at some point. Then again, I’m kind of obnoxious like that. 😉

    Like

  15. Do you know that I commented (on one of your blogs or maybe via email) that you two should look out for each other. Because I knew (as did countless others, no doubt) that the two of you we’re both across the pond!

    How cool would it have been if you’d have met up in a pub or something?

    Like

  16. BillThePraiseAndWorshipGuy says:

    Peg, I have a lot of small world stories. After finishing music for a mass in the Church of the Transfiguration,in Israel I heard “Bill!” — it was a friend from Houston! In Mexico City, a priest I knew from Memphis was in the next section of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe as we began our mass. A few others, too… The folks on the pilgrimages would always say, “See? he DOES know people everywhere!!!!”

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m impressed, but figure if you hang out with saintly people you’re bound to run into someone you know in a holy place. Now, if you ran into some of your more seedy friends in a church….

      Like

  17. Blogdramedy says:

    In a candy shop (fun) talking to my Mister about how much I loved Pierce Brosnan in “After the Sunset” when the Mister froze and out of the corner of his mouth said, “Don’t turn around. He’s behind you.”

    And he was! He looked dreamy but someone needed to give him lessons in the correct jeans for your body type.

    Like

  18. Derek Zenith says:

    When I found out the guy who played Boba Fett and Dak Ralter in Episode V read my blog.

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  19. Pingback: A Mystery Revealed | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

  20. rachelocal says:

    I live in Delaware, which is small, so everyone knows everyone. Or everyone’s someone’s cousin. It’s maddening. I can’t gossip about ANYONE. 🙂

    Like

  21. pattisj says:

    Wouldn’t it have been fun if you’d shown up in each other’s pictures? I don’t even run into people I know in my hometown. Maybe I need to travel more.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      That’s the funny flip-side to this, Patti. I live in a relatively small town and there are people I haven’t seen in years, and I’m not exactly a hermit. How does THAT happen?

      Like

  22. amelie88 says:

    Most recent one was when I was in Vienna last year visiting the Vienna Opera House. On my same tour was one of my sorority sisters who was in the year below me! She was doing her master’s in London, I was teaching English in Spain. I didn’t say hi to her because we weren’t that close and I had no idea what to say. It also happened again when I was sitting on a bench in Madrid in front of the Prado talking to a friend (fairly touristy area). Another sorority sister who was teaching English in France was visiting Madrid. I’m chatting away to my friend and I hear, “Amelie?” only to look up and see my sorority sister! My Spanish friend was bowled over I had run into someone I knew from the USA! He wouldn’t stop calling it a “casualidad.”

    Like

  23. I so enjoy your take on the world, Peg. 🙂 Comparing those two pictures, with the explanation about yours was hysterical. And so historically accurate, with the murderous ascensions to royal power that have as you mentioned, marked so much of England’s history. Your picture is just as beautiful in its own right as the comparative one above it.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks, but I think “beautiful” might be false praise. I try to capture places and people, but I lack the skill or talent to take great pictures. I’m also too lazy to learn how to use a good camera – always meant to take a class…someday.

      Like

  24. Sandy Sue says:

    Thank you for this little window to your soul, dear Peg! Honing in on a carrion-eater in the middle of a dead lawn gives us such a clear picture of your inner workings!

    Like

  25. omawarisan says:

    Things like this never happen to me. They happen to people who are with me. People with me see all sorts of people they know. I’m not sure I even know anyone at this point.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It could all come down to a lack of awareness. That’s my problem. Just today I walked within 2 feet of someone I worked with for 20 years, and notice her until I heard her outraged “Um, HELLO? PEG?”

      Like

  26. A couple of years ago I received an e-mail from a stranger which said, “I think I am your brother.”

    I am adopted and I use my biological fathers name rather than my family name. This person had read some of my adoption stories, not on WordPress. He told me why he thought he was my fathers son. I had heard his story from both my mother and father, all of my siblings had. So I wrote him back and told him it was likely. He asked if I thought any of my brothers would be willing to do a DNA test and he asked for pictures, I asked my brothers and we exchanged pictures. I nearly fell off my chair when I received his pictures, dang my dad’s DNA was strong!

    Anyway, he sure was one of us.

    Like

  27. PinotNinja says:

    “you never know when you’ll run into someone who will rat you out if you misbehave” — now those are some wise words to live by.

    I run into people every time I travel. I was wandering the streets of San Francisco when I ran smack into two girls that I went to high school with (in a very small town in far away New England). I was staying in a remote three-room bed and breakfast in Yosemite and a woman that I knew from college was also staying there for the same two nights. I was sunning on a beach outside of Sydney, Australia and just about to go topless for the first and only time in the spirit of embracing local culture and pounding too many day beers and I saw a guy who was in my kindergarden class and whose dad worked with my dad (my top obviously stayed on after that).

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  28. I’m originally from a VERY small town (well, actually outside a very small town – and in another state), so my biggest ‘small world’ experiences are when I meet someone who asks me where I’m from… and… well… they actually have heard of where I’m from. Not quite as exciting as your stories, I’m afraid, Peg. Less chocolate involved, too. Bummer.

    Like

  29. dorannrule says:

    Great post! And yes, it’s a small world for sure. My own experience was running into a high school friend 20 years later at a vacation resort in North Carolina. He was clogging and I was watching and he kept staring across the room and I kept staring back. Finally he came over, got down on one knee and said, “Didn’t you go to my high school?” I thought he was going to propose or something but turned out he was already married. Drat!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m sorry, but did you say “Clogging”? As in, not blogging, but dancing with big, wooden shoes? Was this guy a known clogger in high school or did you have absolutely no prior indication that he would choose this path in life?

      Like

  30. Agreed! It really is a small world. I have had several of these type of encounters. The first one I remember was when I went to England. I was much younger and an attractive young man approached me at Piccadilly Circus. He asked me if I was from Niagara Falls, Canada. Yes! Then he said, “I know your older sister”. Small world. My most recent was a couple of hours ago when I phoned my husband to ask him to meet me in a restaurant I never frequent for lunch. When he answered his cell I could hear noise in the background. When I asked him where he was he said, “50’S Diner”. That was the place I was phoning to invite him to try with me. Goose bumps!

    Like

  31. JM Randolph says:

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that you took a picture of birds killing each other in Kensington Gardens. I had a small world-small town experience tonight, not sure if it qualifies. My middle girl #3 (age 15) has a friend named Tom. #5 (boy, age 10) has a friend named Tyler, whom he spent all day with today. Tom lives on Runnymead, and Tyler lives on Lane, but they’re actually the same street, they just change names at the intersection. Tom picked my #3 up from work today and wanted to go ice skating and she mentioned she had to go home first to make sure she didn’t need to babysit her brother (#5). Tom replied, “Oh, you don’t, he’s at my house.”

    Because Tom’s parents divorced, married other people, and live a block and a half from each other and Tyler is Tom’s half brother and I. Never. Knew. This. Before today. Weird, eh? Guess that falls more under “small powers of observation” rather than “small world”. I’m chalking it up to “relevant sh*t your kids don’t tell you.”

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m chalking it up to Complications of the Modern Family – jeesh! My take-away lesson is you always have to watch who you gossip about, because you never know if the person you’re talking to is related to the subject whose dirt is being dished.

      Like

  32. I got stuck in that awful Disney ride “It’s a Small World After All.” That song, it’s stuck in my head like a program implanted by the CIA.

    Like

  33. muddledmom says:

    That’s pretty cool! Wouldn’t it have been fun to run into her? It seems all of my small world stuff seems to happen at the local Target, though, and not halfway across the world. My husband often runs into people when we are on vacation, but they are always people he works or has worked with. It’s happened on a plane, on the beach in two states, and in other places I can’t remember.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I only run into people at Target when I’m looking a total, irredeemable mess. Then it’s always somebody who I don’t like who will take delight in my hideousness.

      Like

  34. My Dad grew up on a lake hundreds of miles outside of Indianapolis. In 7th grade, I took a couple girlfriends there for Spring Break. We all went to the same middle school, therefore knew the same teachers. Our English teacher, (previously) was Ms. Hart. All of us were getting off the boat we docked at my parents’ friend’s cottage. As our (quite rebellious may I add) 11 and 12 year old selves were walking up the pier, one of us noticed a butt sticking up in the air, wearing the tiniest thong swimsuit bottom. We laughed hysterically, out of every visit to that lake, every lot space with a cottage on top in the 40-some mile circumstance this lake embodies, we had NEVER seen a thong. Not only that, but she was bent over so it appeared to be naked butt in the air, hanging out. My Dad’s male friends were laughing, most likely whistling, and the person shyly stood up and turned around.

    “Ms. Hart!?!?” We all yelled in unison, waving out hands, laughing so hysterically we could barely get it out. Her fair skin, natural strawberry-cherry hair color that matched her skin tone when she became embarrassed was unmistakable.

    “Ms. Hart!!!” We’re waving boisterously, my parents, “Is that your English teacher, girls!?”

    She could barely look at us. In fact, now married, and 17 years later, two of the girls that lived that moment with me back then happen to bartend at a bar, in Indianapolis. Hours away from the Thong Incident. She’s been married for over a decade, and her hubby’s favorite bar happens to be where they work.

    It’s kind of cute. And kind of sad. Because she still can’t look at us, her little beady eyes avoiding the past. She can’t even order her own drink, let alone make eye contact. We’ve even brought it up a couple times, helping break her psychological unnecessary boundary of embarrassment.

    It always made things worse, so we just give a casual wave and give her space, to lesson the degree of virtual scarlet her skin still reaches upon instantaneously being reminded of a 17 year old swim suit. That we all have from only one of our ‘Small World’ days.

    Like

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