I guide my grocery cart away from the checkout stand at The Purity. I greet a friend standing at the onion bins. A middle aged woman with dark auburn hair, stylish makeup and a Guatemalan shoulder bag enters the store and collects a cart.
As she passes, she gives me a shining smile and direct eye contact. I smile back, thinking I might know her, but realize I do not. She takes a few steps toward the first aisle before whipping a U-turn and nearly colliding her cart with mine.
She’s excited, like a racehorse anxious to be released from the starting gate. I suspect something interesting is about to happen.
“We were meant to meet,” she says in a conspiratorial tone, her face beaming.
“Really?” I say.
“Yes.” She’s nearly breathless. “I saw you walking your dog yesterday. Then today, my husband drove me to the store and we pulled up next to a car and I saw your dog and I said to him, ‘There’s that woman’s dog! She must be in the store!’ And here you are!”
“Wow.” I feel like a celebrity.
She leans in closer, a little too close. “Have you ever read The Celestine Prophecy?”
I’ve read a lot of stuff over the years. I search my memory banks. “No.”
“It says that if two people continue to encounter one another, they either share a past life or have something in this life they are destined to learn from each other.”
“Don’t you see? I saw you yesterday and then again today. We were meant to meet.”
No one has ever been so excited to see me. “May I ask your name?”
“Lauren Conroy [not her real name]. I live on the corner of Lincoln and Whipple [not her real address].”
I hold out my hand. “Nice to meet you.”
She shakes my hand. “And what’s your name?”
“Kate.” I deliberately skip my last name and Google Map location.
She looks astonished. “Kate is the name I give when I make orders to go! You know like when you place a sandwich order at a deli counter?”
“I give the name Kate!” Her dark brown eyes glisten.
As farfetched as I find this encounter, the fake name for take-out orders doesn’t faze me. For years, my Starbucks name has been Hazel. I receive many compliments on it.
“It’s so nice to meet you, Lauren. Thank you for stopping to introduce yourself.” I walk away, but not before noticing her expression drop into disappointment.
“Hopefully we’ll see each other again,” she calls after me.
I assume she’s a recent transplant. We live in a small town. She hasn’t learned that the chances of repeated people sightings are approximately 99.9%.
Lucy and I will have to start wearing hats and dark glasses on our daily walks.