Small Town Manhattan, Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Recently, I ran into a friend on the Upper East Side. She’d just moved to New York that weekend and was on her way back from the requisite new apartment Bed Bath and Beyond run. She happened to live across the street from the corner where I ran into her. I only happened to be on that corner because I was headed to watch a football game with friends at a bar nearby. If I had taken a later train, or a different path from the subway to the bar, I would have missed her entirely. But no. The Universe somehow manipulated the situation so that, in a city of 8 million people, I ran into one of the handful of humans I know on this planet we call Earth. Weird, right?

It gets weirder. That was not the first time this has happened! It was the third.

Another time, I was on the 6 train reading a book and the pack of teenagers in the car with me were being ridiculously obnoxious, so I was tuning out the world in adherence to standard New York subway etiquette. A guy sat down in the seat right next to me. My peripheral vision allowed me to register him as a male in his mid-twenties or so, but because my gaze was focused on my book I didn’t see his face.

The train went by two full stops before I looked up and realized I knew him.

“David?”I asked.

He replied with a startled, “Oh my God! Leigh!”

It was a completely random, like 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night. He was coming back from band practice at a venue they don’t normally use and I was headed uptown to a book club meeting. The fates aligned that evening and, again, I somehow found myself sharing the same space as a friend without ever having planned it.

And then one more time, I was walking through Times Square, weaving in and out of tourists trying to make it to brunch and the Bloody Mary that was calling my name, and I saw a guy across the street who looked just like someone I’d gone to high school with. I stopped in my tracks. Pretty abruptly, too. I think someone ran into the back of me, but I probably didn’t even apologize because I was too busy staring at this impossible thing happening before my eyes.

No, I thought to myself. That can’t be Jordan from Caddo Magnet High in Shreveport, Louisiana.

But, it was. I ran up to him and probably nearly hugged the life out of him. He was a piece of home! Right here in Manhattan! When I finally let him go and we stopped exclaiming about how crazy it was to run into one another, he told me he was taking summer classes in the city. I’m sure that at that moment we were the lone two Shreveporters in a ten block radius. And we’d somehow managed to find each other.

I tell you, it’s eerie when things like that happen. Makes me think there’s something to all that jargon my yoga teacher spouts off about interconnectedness and energy and like life forces.

But I’m not going to get too caught up in trying to figure out whether the responsible party for my random run-ins was fate or coincidence. I just know that it’s definitely cool to bump into people in a place this large. When it happens, I can almost trick myself into believe that New York is much, much smaller—and that’s sometimes a trick I need to play on myself for the sake of my own sanity!



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