A Chance Encounter

On our return from our cottage in New Hampshire this past summer, we stopped at a motel
in Binghamton, N.Y. for the night. The car in front of us had Michigan plates on it but I
thought nothing of it, just some other weary travelers also on their way home.
After unpacking the car and getting settled in our room, I took our dog, Charlie, for a walk.
In the back parking lot, I glanced at a man getting something out of his car. He looked at me
and said, “Sue?” I looked at him and said, “Peter?” It was Peter Blackshear who, with his
wife Megan, own and manage Bookbound Bookstore in Ann Arbor (along with their dog
Chester). I have enjoyed shopping and attending poetry readings there as well as getting to
know Peter and Megan who are fun to talk with about books and very helpful in serving
their customers.

After expressing our surprise at seeing each other there, I casually asked him where they
were traveling from. “Center Sandwich, New Hampshire,” he said, and my jaw dropped.
Center Sandwich is a tiny town most people have never heard of and the ones who have
consider it a treasure. Surrounded by mountains and near a stunning lake, both Peter’s
family and my husband’s each have property there and have been coming to their
respective cottages for over 30 years. But they had never met each other there.
Peter and I and then John, my husband, shared histories and laughed about the strange
coincidences that bring familiar people together in unfamiliar surroundings.
I was thinking later about this chance meeting and how it was made so much richer
because of my time spent with Peter and Megan at their store. The nature of an
independent bookstore is such that rapport can develop easily and there is that
commitment from the people who work there to get to know you, and you, them. When you
meet in unexpected places, you know that you’ll see them again and look forward to more
conversation, whether on great hikes in the mountains or the latest Ann Patchett novel.

–Sue Budin