Tonight, mostly so we could get out of the house, we decided to drive to a nearby town to look for something we were interested in, to get some good Japanese takeout, and to let the kids play in Chick-fil-A's playplace. As we settled in to our table near the glass window, we struck up a conversation with the couple next to us. The wife was clearly close to the end of a pregnancy, and so she noticed the baby with some great interest. We also noticed their son was about our older son's age and started comparing notes on parenting.
After we had talked for a while about giving birth and post-birth experiences, the husband asked me, "So are you from the midwest?" I laughed, since he was only the second person to guess that. I told him I was from Atlanta and he remarked, "Yeah, I guess Atlantans don't really have an accent. But you both sound you're from the midwest."
My wife explained where she was from, which brought the natural question everyone asked, "So did you meet at UGA?" We got perhaps the thousandth opportunity to share our experience of meeting each other (amazing to think that was now seven years ago), why we hit it off, how we courted (in our own peculiar way), and how we ended up where we are. Each time I felt sure I was boring the husband with it, he would ask another question showing he was paying attention, and possibly even interested.
We found out they were graduates from FSU's music school, so they had something in common with my wife (much of her schooling was spent in schools of music). We also found out that he was in urban planning because we mentioned our meeting in Salt Lake (he was fascinated by their transit system). He was also a graduate from a masters program, like me. He even took a lot of interest in my pursuit of a doctorate.
The most notable interest was how dejected they became when we did mention our plans to move. I picked up on it the moment I mentioned it (No, I don't go around telling random strangers, "Yeah, I'm getting a doctorate." It came up in conversation, I swear). Then the wife explained that her two best friends in the area were from Kansas and Virginia - and they had both moved home. About that time, the husband even said, "This is the nicest conversation I've had since we moved up here." I asked if they were new in town and they said, "Not really. We moved here three years ago."
Wow, did we know how they felt. We spent several years feeling fairly lonely as a couple, and have only made some great friends over the past year or two. And now we meet this great couple (our wives exchanged cell numbers) just as we're getting ready to leave. Still, a friendship might well have formed this night, and I don't plan to write them off simply because we're leaving. It was a great night, and a completely random event, so it almost made it that much neater. My wife and I even joked on our way home that we might have met our "replacements" for our friends we're leaving behind. They certainly seemed like they would get along well with at least one couple we know, probably two. That would be a great legacy to leave - pairing up some friends just as we depart.
Time will tell. For now, it's just a nice evening to talk about.