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Throughout my photographic lifetime I have met and encountered so many individuals it is very difficult to count.  I have finally reached a point in my career where sometimes I cannot remember where I took a photo.  I never thought that would happen.  If you follow my blog, you know that I have met face to face fellow photographers who live on other continents or in different parts of the US.  And of course had it not been for this hobby, I would never have met Tracy.

This week has been a very difficult one as I just try to go through my normal routine before Tracy and I head down to LA to visit my gravely ill uncle.  I find it difficult to focus on what I consider trivial matters during the day compared to my thoughts and feelings about a man who I have known and loved all of my life.  So in her always kind way Tracy suggested we go to Japan Center for dinner.  It’s an area of San Francisco that I always enjoy.   She wanted to go there to find a Christmas gift for my daughter, but every shop was closed.  Since we were hungry, we decided to have a meal at Benihana’s a local tourist favorite.

Before we left the house Tracy asked, ‘Are we taking our gear?  I know you’ve been Jonesing to street shoot.’ I pondered her questions and said, ‘Yup, I don’t want to go there without my gear and then see a great shot and wished I had my camera.’ So we slung our bags over our shoulders and headed to SF for some dinner.

When we were seated at the group table, a woman sitting next to me leaned over and asked, ‘What’s good here?’ I’m sure that since I was the only Japanese person at the table of eight, she figured that my recommendation was the most valid.  But in reality, Benihana is about as Japanese as Taco Bell, but it was a great reason to strike up a conversation.  I asked the woman’s name and she replied, ‘Bonnie.’  She was there with two of her co workers and when Tracy and I asked what they were doing in town they stated they were there for a convention.  So when we asked what they did for a living, they made us guess.  I guessed first – Business women, nope.  Tracy guessed next – Teachers, nope.  Finally I guessed nurses and all three nodded in affirmation.  I lamented how I hate needles and we were off to the races with our new table mate friends.

We talked of many things, some more personal than one would consider appropriate for a conversation among strangers.  But all of us ‘put ourselves out there’ to engage one another.   Tracy and I were a bit sad that we had not brought a larger vehicle, as we wanted to drive Bonnie, Ann and ?? who I will call Kind around San Francisco to show them the sights.  How can it be that a trio of friends and a pair of partners can make a connection enough to extend an invitation of friendship in a day and age where most people avoid others ‘for their own safety?’  I’m often so pleasantly surprised that humanity overcomes unfounded fear and that by engaging another person, the seeds of friendship are planted.

We may never again see Bonnie, Ann and Kind but then again, we may.  And in those moments we laughed and shared a bit about our lives over a meal that was truly happenstance, I was reminded of what is truly important in this life.

Thanks girls! Tracy and I hope to see you early next year during your next visit.  This time we’ll bring a larger vehicle!

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