I know it sounds like the beginning of an old joke.
Last week, I was running errands and stopped into the bookstore to buy two gifts. While I was there, I noticed a woman that I had coincidentally seen at the grocery store earlier in the week. She looked so familiar. Not familiar in that we live on a small island and you run into the same people all the time. This was different. She looked like someone I used to know a long time ago. She was older than me, very petite, and her hair was tied back in a bun. But when I saw her again in the bookstore, I couldn’t help but stare. I was quite sure I knew her. She looked like one of my old friends. Then, I realized she might actually be someone famous.
At the risk of embarrassing her, and myself, I cautiously said, "You look so familiar. Has anyone told you that you look like...?” Without letting me finish my sentence, she just nodded and said, "I am.” I hadn’t recognized her because her signature curly hair was neatly tucked into a bun. I have very similar hair, and most of the time, I tuck it into a bun too.
After 30 years in the entertainment industry, I am rarely star struck, but this was someone I have adored since I was a little girl. I gushed and I gushed hard. I started telling her that I had been a fan of her music, since the early 70s. I told her that I recently read her memoir. I saw her life story on Broadway. I watched the documentary about her concert in Hyde Park. Weirdly, I happened to be in Hyde Park on the day of that concert. My sister had my favorite album of hers on vinyl. But over my lifetime, I went on to purchase that same album four different times on: 8-track, cassette, CD and eventually on iTunes. I told her how I cried when she was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors where Aretha Franklin sang her song. She started to tear up when I told her all of this.
I met Carole King. For my younger readers, sorry if you are not familiar with this musical legend, but she is awesome. The Broadway musical about her life was called Beautiful and it won two Tonys. It remains one of my favorite Broadway shows of all time. Her memoir is called A Natural Woman. The album that I bought four times is called Tapestry. She is probably one of my favorite singer-songwriters along with Elton John, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell.
We swapped stories about being city girls who moved to the country to get away from the rat race of our respective industries. We talked about what books we were buying. She told me that she was working on a novel. I told her that I write a weekly blog. She introduced me to her close friend who was also carrying an arm full of books. We joked about all the ways that we might have met before, since we probably know a lot of the same people, but it took a bookstore on a small island to finally meet in person. I didn’t want the conversation to end, but there is always a fine line between being a fan and being a stalker, so we said our goodbyes.
I had so many questions. What was it like meeting John Lennon? What was it like collaborating with James Taylor? What does she like most about living in the country? What does she miss most about city life? Does she still write music? Does she still play piano every day? Does she still write songs? Does she like writing books better? Does she listen to music when she writes? I do.
Isn’t it strange how sometimes when you meet someone there is an instant chemistry? It is as if you knew each other your whole lives. This is what that chance encounter felt like. It was very special. As we left the bookstore, she said, “I hope we run into each other again.” I said, “Me too.”
I really hope we do. Thank you for being as lovely as I always imagined you would be.