It always amazes me how in a world as big as ours, it is not hard to find a familiar face. The world is not a small place, not by any means, in fact it is such a large place that one could spend endless lifetimes exploring it’s every nook and cranny. Yet, it doesn’t always feel that way and I’m saying so because, throughout all my travels, I can always find someone who I know, whether across the country or around the globe.
Take, for instance, a weekend trip to Ireland for St Patrick’s Day. In college, I had the good fortune to find myself studying abroad in Versailles my junior year. A life-changing experience. Come March, I made travel plans with some classmates to celebrate St Patty’s day in, where else but, Dublin. So we hopped on a plane, flew across the channel, and found ourselves in the heart of the Irish country.
We did the touristy things, touring parks and sightseeing around the city, but mainly we drank. It was St Patty’s day afterall, and that’s what you do. My friend Josh and I bought Tin whistles from a shop and stood on a street corner with an upturned hat playing screeching notes that would cause the hair of cats to stand on end. We didn’t need the money-we just thought it would be fun. And it was.
On our last full day in the beautiful green country, the group of us decided to take a bus tour out to Powerscourt Gardens, where much of the film ‘Braveheart’ was shot. Nevermind you that Braveheart was based in Scotland, it was much cheaper, we were told, to film in Ireland. Besides, who could tell the difference.
So we jumped on the bus and the bus driver was a hoot and a holler, and all sorts of ridiculous fun. At one point he maneuvered the heavy vehicle around and around a suicide circle, in what must have been five or six loops before pulling off onto the the correct side street. To say that it was less a bus ride and more like being on a roller-coaster would be a tremendous understatement. But eventually we arrived at Powerscourt.
The grounds were magnificent, beautiful and green, even in the late winter month. We spent the day tromping through the woods on trails in the English-style gardens which are wild compared to their finely-manicured French counterparts. There was no shortage of things to do.
We found a grand tree in the center of it all with thick spidery branches, twisting and turning, looping in bizarre skyward reaching braids-a perfect tree for climbing. We weren’t the only tour group to think this as we found some other college-age kids scattered among its leafy limbs. And within the web of branches, hidden from view was Amy, a girl from my high school class.
I can’t claim to have recognized her at first as it had been a few years since I had last seen her, and why would she be here, of all places and at the same time as me? But after a couple moments, I called out her name and she responded in kind. It turns out she was studying abroad in Spain. We spent a few minutes catching up, both amazed that we had found each other across the sea.
And that is not a stand alone incident. I have run into the parents of friends in Dallas, both of us awaiting connecting flights. I’ve stumbled into friends on busy Chicago streets and have crossed paths with friends of friends on long walks at Mardi-Gras celebrations in St Louis. The world is not as big as one may think. And it’s moments like that the make the world easier to live in-because no matter where you are, no matter how lost and alone you may feel sometimes, there is always a familiar face right around the corner.