December 24, 2016: The story of strangers got stranger than when I first wrote this post in 2007. That strangeness led to a complete shift in my world view and my relationship with my mom — and confirmed there is a higher power, whether outside of us or within. I’ll note the various dates when these oddities occurred.
It’s hard to imagine that
twice three times in my life so far I’ve had the most bizarre, unexplainable kismet (fate) related to pastries, of all things. I share these tales to show what delightful synchronicity life can bring particularly when you talk to strangers. These are totally true:
Story 1: A Mother and Daughter Bakery-Based Reunion (2007)
A couple of days ago the lure of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco finally won me over. I stopped in for a croissant the moment they opened, knowing the butter would still be meltingly warm from the oven. The woman helping me asked if I wanted jam. The apricot did not particularly appeal, but after I commented that I wish I could have brought some great jam I had at home, she said by all means go get it.
The flaky abundant croissant fulfilled my food fantasies and I enjoyed every calorie, particularly with this Tayberry jam my sister had brought from Oregon. Immediately after my satisfying breakfast, I emailed my sister to tell her how I’d enjoyed pairing the jam with the croissant.
Yesterday she stopped by the maker of this jam at the farmer’s market in Oregon. While standing there she told her friend how I’d eaten this berry jam with a Tartine croissant. The jam maker commented:
My daughter makes the croissants at Tartine.
Just writing that gives me chills. Here almost 400 miles apart, I had rushed home to get this jam made by the mother of the person who made the croissant I ate it with. If you didn’t believe in some kind of universe before this, maybe you do.
Or perhaps you need to read this next story first.
Story 2: The Unexplainable Christmas Coincidence Miracle That Shifted Our World Views (2012)
Written December 24, 2016 but it happened 4 years earlier.
The phrase “this happened” is bandied about these days. But you won’t believe that this happened:
I was staying with my mom in Los Angeles, and for some reason she and I had planned to spend Christmas Eve alone together, for the first time. No other family around.
I had made a reservation for a casual early meal at now-closed Short Order, a hamburger joined that famed restaurateur Nancy Silverton had opened in the Farmer’s Market, when “The Grove” was a new mall.
We showed up early, after I had called the restaurant to ask if we could come early. They’d told me that in fact they were closing at 6 that evening. (Thanks OpenTable!)
For context, my mom and I weren’t as close as I was with my dad. So we got a table for 2 upstairs, and I put in an order of wine. My mom was talking about something, but the table next to me with a big group had caught my eye. I started playing a mind game, guessing where they were from.
Finally I asked, to see how right I was.
They replied some from LA, some from the Bay Area, some from Southern Oregon.
“I’ve got a sister there,” I said.
The father said: “We have a farm. It’s called Pennington’s.”
I literally stood up. “You will never believe who I am.”
We could not believe the epic coincidence connecting us 5 years later, 700 miles from their farm…350 miles from the scene of the croissant.
Remember how the restaurant said they were closing at 6?
Well, that was not to be.
Once the staff heard what happened, they joined our celebration.
Why did this happen?
How did this happen?
What is the meaning?
We drank, we danced, we talked. We connected.
It was one of the most amazing evenings of my life…
Only later did I learn that my mom used to write down coincidences which she saved in a box on folded pieces of paper. She didn’t mention this at the time. She probably didn’t remember.
But I will never forget. And I will never discount the meaning behind coincidences.
Especially because this happened too…
Story 3: The Sticky Bun Susie Sought Out Comes to Susie
One day I visited my favorite coffee house in San Leandro, CA called Zocolo. All morning I’d thought about the pecan sticky bun I’d had there, made by an artisan bakery. They were out. Crestfallen, I ate a bagel instead.
The next morning I found myself at Peet’s Coffee in San Francisco. After reading each section of the newspaper I handed them to the three young women sitting next to me.
One of them said: “You’re so kind to offer these. What can I give you in return? How about advice? Do you like pastries?”
Our information exchange about the most succulent baked goods flew. She told me about a nearby French bakery known for the most buttery pastries ever. There’s this great cafe in San Leandro, I explained, with the most heavenly pecan sticky buns. It turned out her husband worked nearby and she made a note to send him to the cafe to get her a sample.
“My sister works for a bakery” she said, pointing to the girl next to me. I asked what it was called. “Raison d’Etre” she replied.
This was the bakery that makes the very sticky buns I’d craved the day before.
“I have one in the car I can give you” her sister said. And we walked down the street. She opened a cooler, unwrapped a foil ball, and before me presented the genuine article: the pecan sticky bun of my quest.
As I dove in, we shook our heads in amazement at this bizarre coincidence.
On Being a Connector and Synchronicity
I just read a quote by Wayne Dyer that connectors often experience synchronicity / coincidences and are used to it. While I’m known as a connector I never get used to things as highly improbably as those I described above. Is this The Secret’s proverbial Law of Attraction at work (attracting delicious pastries to me)?
I’d love to hear your wildest synchronicity stories!