After spending the prior 12 years with the same friends, schools and home, leaving for an out-of-state, smaller apartment complex, was hard to swallow.
We especially missed our ball fields. Sports had been our life up north and my brothers and I were spoiled by the best stadiums.
Our front yard. Sandy's Field. The Pit.
But in this Florida apartment complex, all we found was sandy fields, sand spurs and sandwiched parking lots.
But we kept playing. After all, we'd left all our friends behind - besides writing them letters - what else was there to do?
Trouble was brewing though with Billy, a guy about my age, who oversaw the apartment grounds. He had rules - lots of them.
NO throwing balls in the parking lot. NO playing catch in the landscaped courtyard. NO football games in the apartment playground.
It didn't stop us. Just like we knew that Jake, the janitor at our church back home, would chase us off if he saw us on his beautiful lawn, we played until Billy ran us off. Luckily, he had many other duties to keep him away from our end of the complex.
In between sports, we'd write to pen-pals up in Minnesota. I'm sure many letters complained about that groundskeeper who shut down our games.
A month later, I flew back to Minneapolis for vacation. One of my pen-pals, Mary, and I got together a couple times during the trip. One night she took me over to meet her girlfriend who also had a guy visiting from Florida. What was the chance of both girls knowing guys in Florida?
Mary led me to her girlfriend's door. A woman opened it halfway, revealing the outline of her boyfriend behind her. The two girls stepped aside and started introducing us guys.
We never heard a word.
Stupor struck us deaf and dumb at the same instant. Our eyes locked, brains spinning on ice, checking and cross-checking, trying to make sense of the impossible evidence that stood before our very eyes!
It was Billy from the apartment complex!
What were the odds? Both of us had vacationed to Minneapolis at the same time. Both were writing to girls in Minnesota. Both girls turned out to be friends. And here we were face-to-face 1800 miles away from our apartment complex - realizing for the first time how much we had in common!
Blown away by the magnitude of the coincidence, our past differences melted into oblivion. Discovering our similarities was the same as forgetting our differences. To this day, I can't calculate the odds of that meeting, but suspect its lesson applies universally.
Even apparent enemies share an amazing amount in common - we just have to take the time to look for it. Discovering our similarities, is the same as forgetting our differences.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz