When you meet someone new, do you ever wonder if you’ve crossed paths before without ever knowing?

Sure you do. I can’t be the only one who has had this conversation:

“So, what do you like to do?”

“I’m a big fan of Phish.”

“OMG, me too! Have you ever been to a concert at Red Rocks??”

“Yep, in 2004.”

“Wait, I went to their concert in Red Rocks in 2004…”

“That’s crazy. I wonder if we were standing right next to each other and just didn’t know it!”

Sound familiar? ish? Before I sound like a poser, let me put it out there that I’m not a Phish Head, or whatever Phish fans (phans?) are called. Wait, hold on, Googling it. Hey! They are called Phish Heads. Nice.

nailed it

After meeting my husband, we went through all the possible scenarios when we could’ve crossed paths. You went to the Hooters in Nags Head, OBX in the summer of 2007?? I went to the Hooters in Nags Head, OBX in summer of 2007! You used to visit NYC all the time in 2012? I lived there in 2012! You hung out at C.P. Shuckers last May? I had a drink there last May when I was visiting town!

It’s kind of crazy to think that we may be passing right by our future husbands, future best friends, future bosses, future brother-in-laws, future arch enemies, future anyones! Random faces in a sea of people could turn into fellow humans that significantly alter– or at least partake in– this one life you have to live.

When I was 22, I went on a dog sledding trip in Ely, Minnesota. A few weeks before I left, fresh off a painful and serious breakup, I was asked out by a guy to whom I reluctantly gave my number during a random bar encounter on Christmas night. The only reason I went out with him is because he called me instead of texting. I would’ve ignored his text if he said, “Hey, this is so-and-so from the bar last night,” but since a random number was calling me, I picked up. Thirty minutes later, after a really enjoyable phone call, I agreed to let him take me to dinner.

We went on 3-4 dates before I went on my big dog sledding adventure. I hadn’t let him kiss me yet, and was pretty stand offish because I really wasn’t over my recent breakup. But he was super nice and very attentive, so I enjoyed his company for what it was, even if he was wayyyy more interested than I was.

Then I went off the grid for 8 days. Deep in the heart of No Man’s Land, 10 miles south of the Canadian border during the brutal month January. No shower for 7 days. Definitely no shaving. Alllllll of the smells. By the time the trip was over, I was retaining like, 10 pounds of water weight due to all the special foods we had to eat in order to stay warm in -20 degree weather. My mother legitimately asked what happened to my face when she saw me.

Anyway, when I was sitting in the Minneapolis airport, waiting to fly home to Virginia, I looked to my right and saw him. HIM. The guy who took me on 3-4 dates before I left! Whatttttt. RED ALERT. STALKER.

Then I realized he hadn’t spotted me yet, so that kinda ruled out the stalker theory.

I kept glancing over. Is it actually him? Maybe not. I barely know the guy. Maybe it’s just a lookalike..? At the exact same time that I realized I may not want him to see me, given my oversized college sweatpants, messy bun, and swollen face with windburned cheeks to match, I heard words escaping from my mouth. No no no no no why did you say anything, Shannon, you look like a downright disaster!! He probably won’t even recognize you! Words, get back here!

should not have said that

This is actual footage of me in the airport after 7 days of dogsledding.

We’ll call him Rick. Rick looked up at me, blinked a few times, cocked his head, and said…”Shannon?”

Yep, it’s me. I know, rough. Thanks for squinting.

Looking dapper in his tailored suit, he set down his iPad and gave me a big hug.

“What are you doing here??”

“Well, as you know because you took me to dinner the night before I left, I just finished my dog sledding trip about 40 miles north of here. So the real question is, what are YOU doing here?”

“I had a work conference in Arizona, and this is my layover on my way back home.”

What. Are. The. Freaking. Odds.

Being the forward, romantic guy he was, he charmed a lady into switching seats with him so he could sit next to me on our flight home, and I proceeded to pass out on his shoulder, slobber and all, the entire way to VA. Unclear how he still found me attractive after seeing me in such a glorious state, but we ended up dating for a few months.

Even more amazing is that five years later, he ended up being the link between my husband and me. If I hadn’t drawn attention to myself by singing All I Want for Christmas is You at a karaoke bar on Christmas night (what was my life), or started seriously dating this guy because an unlikely plane ride bonded us, I never would have met his friends, who became my friends, who then introduced me to my husband five years later.

CRAZY, right??

better odds gif

Seriously, think about it. Had either of us not randomly ended up at that unpopular dive bar on Christmas night (neither of us had ever been there before, btw), I would’ve seen him as a total stranger sitting at the same gate as me in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I mean, we actually could have even sung karaoke at the same bar on Christmas night, but not actually met. Then, we would’ve been two people who were at the same random bar in VA, then in the same random airport in MN, who were still utter strangers, despite having shared quite a few parallel experiences. I’m sure there are people like that all around me.

What does this all mean???

Well, first of all, I just think the story about the airplane is super random and kind of fun to share. But all of this also means that strangers are not just strangers. [Cue: Strangers in the Night] They could be people you truly care about in your future (or be the link between you and someone you end up spending your life with), so always, always be kind.

It also means that timing is everything, because if I’d met my husband in Hooters in 2007, we’d both have been with our exes, and I probably would’ve thought his sunglasses were really weird.

It also means that you shouldn’t lose hope for your romantic life if you’re single, because the love of your life could be walking past you at this very moment. [How many of you all just looked around your office and were like, uh, I’m obviously not going to marry that annoying coworker? Well, maybe your soulmate just dropped something off at the front desk downstairs.]

It also means that while you may feel alone, you’re never actually alone. You just haven’t met everyone yet. Get crackin’ on those introductions!

It also means you should go on dates with guys who call you instead of texting.

It also means that Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You could change your life.

mariah carey gif singing

It also means that guys don’t care if you drool on them.

It also means that you should stay friends with your ex’s friends.

I mean, there are a ton of takeaways here. But the biggest is hope and love. Hope for your future, and love for every single person around you. Who knows how they might change your life…or how you might change their’s. 🙂