Today has been full of haphazard connections with random strangers.
It began with a late morning trip with Charlie to the vet. Charlie loved visiting his vet in Lincoln. I think the most difficult thing about moving to a new city is trying to discover all those places you frequented in your old city because of habit and comfort: your doctor's offices, dentist (mine is my father-in-law, so that one really hasn't changed), barber, or repair services. The list is endless. We establish relationships with those we frequent for the services and necessities of life.
Deb, my barber in Lincoln, is someone I have known since high school and college. When she answered the phone, all I had to say was, "Hi, Deb, it's Todd." She knew it was me and we scheduled my three week hair cut appointment, during which we caught up on what was happening in life. I shared buying my first house, graduating from college, teaching, surviving a car accident, getting married, getting a new job. Deb shared updates about the state of her garden, all the details of her sons' weddings and job changes, her husband's heart-attack. Both Deb and I were sad about my move to Omaha. She reminded me that I can still have my hair cut in Lincoln when I make trips to visit family and friends.
Maybe there is something wrong with me, but replacing Deb was hard. It was a necessity, and I didn't want to do it. Recently I have found a new barber in Omaha at a place called The Beard and Mane. Not only did I receive a great haircut, but I was greeted with a smile, a handshake, and was offered a beer or coffee while I waited. The Beard and Mane is my kind of place! But this blog post isn't about haircuts and finding a new barber or veterinarian. What I'm interested in are those connections we make as people. Oftentimes we have to work hard at establishing those connections, while other times they are the coincidences of life.
Back to this morning. Michelle took Charlie to his first vet appointment in Omaha and today was my first time taking him there. I wasn't so sure that I was going to enjoy this experience as much as I liked Wachel Pet Health Center in Lincoln. Charlie was just happy to be in the car with me. We were greeted with a smile by Karen at VCA Animal Medical Center of Omaha. Karen was verifying our information and then said that she lives in our neighborhood. I found out that Karen lives a block away from us. She asked where our house was and after I explained the location to her, she named our neighbors who we really like. We had a great conversation about where we like to walk our dogs. She can't wait for warmer weather to see everyone out with their kids and dogs. She shared that another young family recently moved into the neighborhood.
After the appointment, we told her that we looked forward to seeing her again, either outside in the spring or next time at the vet. It was a random connection, but one that seems to happen frequently with those who live in our neighborhood.
When Charlie and I got home, we stayed outside to clear the sidewalks of the light dusting of snow from earlier in the morning. As I was out front, a Nebraska Furniture Mart truck slowly turned the corner and drove by, stopping at our house next door. I kept my head down, taking care of the task ahead of me. I had an inkling that I should shout out a neighborly hello to the two delivery men who got out of the truck but I resisted. It have no idea why I decided not to say hi to these random strangers. It would have been a perfectly nice thing to do, especially since I felt something urging me to do so. And shame on me for not doing it.
One of the men at the back of the truck said, "Did you recently buy that house?"
"Yes we did," I replied, wondering about the nature of the question and where this conversation was headed, "Around the end of August."
"I knew the guy, Peter, who used to live there," said the Nebraska Furniture Mart man.
I smiled about the second random connection of the day. "It's a great house," I said. "We love it."
"It's a terrific house," said the Nebraska Furniture Mart man. "I helped Peter do a lot of work on it. The first time I met him, we installed that bathroom on the first floor. And then we became friends and did a lot of updates on it. I knew when I saw it go up for sale that it would sell fast."
"Well, I feel like the lucky one," I said as I returned to shoveling the snow.
I am feeling lucky and thankful about life. Maybe it is because of the two random encounters happening in such a short period of time from each another. Maybe I'm a little more sentimental and reflective this time of year, as the anniversary of my severe car accident is only days away. Maybe I'm turning into an old man (as another birthday is quickly approaching) who discovers too much meaning in the ordinary and just enjoys talking to anyone about anything. Or maybe I'm just experiencing an endless euphoric state of surprise that we stumbled upon such an amazing place to call home.