Vacations bring some connections from home in La Grange
Updated: October 15, 2012 1:52PM
Coming home from vacation is always a bit of a re-entry process.
For me, whenever I return home from my parents’ lake house, it takes a couple of days to stop waving at people.
That’s what you do in Northern Michigan. If you’re jogging in the morning and a car passes, you wave at one another. If you’re walking along the sidewalk, you don’t avoid eye contact, like you tend to do on, say, a busy street in downtown Chicago. You smile and wish each other a good morning. Heck, even when you’re passing another boat on the lake, you give a big wave and a broad smile.
I don’t know if it’s because people are happy they are in a beautiful place at a wonderful time of year, and many of them are on vacation. It could simply be a nice local tradition.
Either way, it’s a pretty cool gesture, and one I wish I did a little more when I’m back in the suburbs.
Greeting strangers in a pleasant way Up North brought me back to a childhood memory and the time a friendly wave to a stranger turned into a hug with an old friend.
My mom and I were on our way out of a small grocery store in town, and she nodded politely and said hello to a woman who was walking in. When they made eye contact, they both started laughing. As it turns out, she was a good friend of the family who happened to be vacationing in the same area.
Over the years, we’ve run into several people from back home while on our summer trip. We bumped into another La Grange family at an art fair, saw some acquaintances at a local ice cream parlor and followed behind a van with a Lyons Township High School bumper sticker.
Last year, we were playing mini putt-putt when my son noticed a girl next to him wearing a T-shirt from a recent swim meet, which had the names of all participating swimmers, including his own. I think we freaked out the poor girl when we started shouting that were from the same area and that his name was on her shirt.
This year, my son was texting a friend of his telling him we were on vacation. The friend, as it turns out, was also on vacation. At a lake. In Michigan.
And yes, after a few more texts, they realized they were at the same lake, and eventually hung out for a while.
Such small-world coincidences aren’t all that unusual, actually.
Amy Grace of La Grange was on vacation in two different out-of-state towns this summer and found a community connection in both places. She and her family were at a restaurant in Long Beach, Indiana when one of her sons recognized a boy playing nearby, who happened to be a neighbor and schoolmate.
A couple of weeks later, she and her husband were unwinding in another Lake Michigan resort town, further north in Michigan.
“We were sitting on the porch at the hotel and another couple approached and asked if we were from La Grange. It turns out that our sons play football together at LT and they were from Western Springs,” says Grace.
Popular vacation areas in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin are one thing, but sometimes, bumping into someone from your world back home really rocks your world.
Mary Ellen Staelgraeve of La Grange, for instance, was on vacation this summer with her extended family in Europe when her nephew ran into his high school soccer coach at a bakery in Ireland.
And when in Rome, you may just bump into another suburbanite. La Grange resident Alyson Riccione and her husband, John, were out to dinner after renewing their wedding vows at a church in Rome, Italy. Given the intimate size of the restaurant, they overheard a nearby couple talk about how they were from Chicago.
“Once we finished our dinner, as we passed their table, I stopped and mentioned we were also from Chicago. They asked what part, and I told them La Grange and they said they were from a ‘little town’ called Western Springs,” recalls Riccione.
Even more coincidental: after talking with the couple in the bar after dinner, Riccione learned that the woman was her neighbor’s boss.
“I suppose it’s not all that unusual to run into someone from the Chicago area anywhere in the world, but to live in the next suburb and know the same people, I thought it was pretty incredible,” remarks Riccione.
It is, indeed, a small world after all. Which is why it’s a good thing that we look out for one another, listen to one another and — why not? — wave at one another on a nice, sunny morning, wherever we may be.
To contact Lynn Petrak, leave a message at (630) 320-5448 or email email@example.com.