Once while strolling along the beach on the less-populated side of San Mateo County – the side that looks over cold, gray water that is the only thing between us and China – I received a text message from Scotland.
It came in a sparkling glass bottle, and was written on lined note paper.
The bottle had been thrown into the sea from a passing freighter by a crewman who wanted to connect with another.
He offered a friendly “hello,” explained who he was, and gave his address in Scotland.
What were the odds? That this man who lived nearly a third of the way around the world would decide on a whim to reach out to an unknown Californian, find a bottle, write his brief note, toss it into the Pacific at the exact point where it would float to this exact beach? That the bottle would wind up on soft sand and not rocks, which would smash it and ruin the note? That someone would find the bottle, happen to see the note inside, be curious enough to extract and read it, save it instead of tossing it crumpled to the sand, and reply to it?
I told him his bottled words had been consumed with joy, and wished him well. He answered and was most happy.
We never corresponded again; that chance meeting of souls was perfect in itself.