My Friend Yiorgos

It’s 3PM on a Thursday and I’m on a boat somewhere on the west coast with a middle-aged Greek man. Jeremy’s becoming increasingly worried but meanwhile I’m having the best shrimp of my life.

But let me back up a little bit.

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Water

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This story starts with Jeremy needing to take a business trip to Long Beach, California and me asking to tag along. I’m craving a change of scenery and can work from anywhere. It’s a Thursday morning when we part ways – Jeremy and his coworkers off to his all-day meeting and me to my office-away-from-home-office: Starbucks (it’s not local, I know, but it’s reliable). I walk about a quarter mile along a very busy street – past palm trees and oil rigs to the closest Starbucks. I order a grande Pike with room for cream and an oatmeal.

This story starts like any mundane non-event at a coffee shop. I settle in at a table and pull out my laptop only to find it completely dead. I scan the room for a place to plug in – there is a spot on a couch next to a man who looks like someone The Sartorialist would photograph reading a paper. He’s middle-aged with a bit of scruff and tanned skin – a sherling woodsmen cap with the ears turned up, a Hawaiian shirt with a black windbreaker, khakis and boat shoes. He meets me with a smile and offers to plug my computer in to the plug closest to him. I take a spot on the couch and as my laptop struggles to get enough juice to turn on we chat. It’s clear he’s not from here and it’s clear that I’m not from there. I ask where he’s from – he says Greece. His name is Yiorgos and he’s been in Long Beach for over a decade now.

So now my computer has enough charge to check my email and launch Photoshop. And at this point some construction workers start tearing down the Starbucks wall with a jack hammer. It’s loud and I can’t recall exactly how the conversation went down but Yiorgos offers to take me to a quieter place. I ask him if he’s going to kidnap me and he says no. I check in with my gut and my gut says today is not the day I’m going to be murdered by a serial killer. So I follow Yiorgos to a marina behind Starbucks and step into a little boat – a dingy – he has tied to the dock.

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Yiorgos

Yiorgos gives me a tour around the marina and I continue to check in with my gut. I think about that thing Oprah taught me when I was 8 – you know the one – about never letting someone take you to a second location. Because at a second location you’re dead meat. But the sky was really beautiful and the water was the perfect shade of blue and Yiorgos is telling me stories about boats and Greek politics. I never feel scared because I’m too distracted by the combination of hot sun with cool wind on my face.

Naples

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We coast along the Rivo Alto Canal and I’m enjoying having a personal tour guide through the island of Naples. We laugh at the names of boats and laugh at the irony of all the people having to work on such a beautiful day to afford said (empty) boats. Meanwhile, we’re on a dingy enjoying the day. As Yiorgos kept reminding me “You can always work tomorrow.”

It’s 11AM and we decide to dock and have a microbrew in a restaurant with a view of the ocean. Jeremy texts asking if I want to join him and his coworkers for lunch. This is when I reply “I’m on an island with my new Greek friend having a beer.” He replies with a light hearted joke about not getting murdered and to have fun.

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KathleenIPA

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We spend a couple hours over a large pint of IPA and just when I start to think about ordering food Yiorgos insists I go back to his boat so he can grill up some shrimp and salmon to eat. I check in with my gut: Second location, Kathleen. Second location! But this day is turning out to be something straight out of a Sofia Coppola movie and I can’t say no.

We go back to Yiorgos’ boat – I settle in on the deck of the boat with my laptop and check my email and prep a few files for printing while Yiorgos gets the grill going. I continue to text Jeremy so he knows I’m safe while at the same time making plans to meet up with my friend Rory who is headed down from LA to spend some time with me.

Lunchtime

Dinner

Veggies

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All of a sudden there are fresh veggies on cutting boards and Yiorgos is marinating and adding spice to the shrimp and salmon. The man clearly knows his way around making a superior meal from simple ingredients. By this time I’ve stopped making escape plans justincase and am enjoying the moment. By this time I’m falling in love – not with Yiorgos – but with the day. A day that started out like any other day. A day that was supposed to be quiet and perhaps even lonely. I was falling in love with who I was that day – someone who would get on a boat with a stranger new friend just to have a story to tell. “What a day…” I kept telling myself. I mean, nothing particularly exciting or scary or brave or adventurous went down – but it was a day I’ll never ever forget.

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Last two images by Rory Gordon. See where her side of the story picks up, from her point of view, here.

  1. I seriously love this story and your adventurous spirit! I wonder if I would have the guts to do the same thing.

  2. Perhaps a somewhat insane day, but how very cool! I love what happens when you trust a stranger a little bit (and keep checking in with your gut to make sure it’s all ok).

  3. I love it! its so long beach too – such random people all thrown together – its my hometown! would have loved to meet and shown you some hot spots…next time!

  4. Erica – Thank you. It’s funny though because it never really seemed like an act of bravery until I started telling people about it later and seeing their reactions to my story.

    Danielle – Psah! Just wait until I become an MMA cowgirl. Then I might be interesting. 😉

    Brandi – I totally thought about your stranger post.

    Carlee – What!? I didn’t know you live there (or close by). If I’m ever back I’ll definitely hit you up.

  5. Well, I’m glad you had a good time but oh my god that could’ve been sooooo bad, haha. I definitely would never have had the guts to do that.

  6. Francine – I’ll be sure to blog about the finer points of such a blurred-lines / grey-area kind of day. Because I mean… anything could’ve been so bad. Driving on the highway could end badly. A marriage could end badly. Lots of things end badly – but most things don’t.

    Anyway, it raises a lot of questions (that I don’t have answers to) that I definitely want to discuss here on the blog.

  7. Jessica

    So incredible! Makes you want to dress “up” even on boring days because.. you never know where you might end up! : )

  8. Dude. I’m so bummed I missed you. You were totally in my hood. Glad you had fun with your new Greek friend and enjoyed Naples! See you next time?

  9. Margie

    What a lovely post! That water is spectacular!

  10. After reading your friend’s account of the story, i was definitely interested to hear YOUR side. you never cease to amaze me kathleen. are you staying in touch with him?

  11. Angie

    Eeek! That was totally badass! I think you can scratch that resolution off the list. I love that you are so open to people and experiences like this one.

  12. I love strangers! And somewhere there’s a Greek man telling everyone about the day he hit the jackpot and spent hours with a beautiful American he found in a coffee shop.

  13. HAILEY

    I love it. I love every bit of it. Cheers to riding the fine line of being both smart and adventurous. And now I’m craving shrimp…

  14. Awesomeness: 1) Oprah’s “second location” comment (what woman in the US doesn’t know it?), 2) checking in with your gut. Seriously lovely.

  15. Bianca

    Loved every morsel of this.

  16. Hahaha, this looks like so much fun, Kathleen! Glad you ignored Oprah’s advice and went on this little adventure!

  17. maxi

    This reminds me of a saying I love “a stranger is a friend you just don´t know yet”. What a beautiful day you spent with a new friend.

  18. What an adventure! Those are the best days and the days that fuel you when things are a little ho-hum. Sometimes the second location is a little dicey (no pun intended) and sometimes it’s where all the fun is. Glad you checked in with your gut and I’m happy that you were brave enough to have such a wonderful day.

  19. What an adventure! Those are the best days and the days that fuel you when things are a little ho-hum. Sometimes the second location is a little dicey (no pun intended) and sometimes it’s where all the fun is. Glad you checked in with your gut and I’m happy that you were brave enough to have such a wonderful day.

  20. po-pam

    Your cool factor just sky-rocketed. And it was already pretty high. I love this story. You’re rad.

  21. janis

    such an awesome story! good for you. also love the titles on the pictures. kind of reminds me of the life aquatic for some reason (the blue and the yellow?). and that first picture of you is so pretty!

  22. Vanessa

    I love this story. As I was reading it, I was thinking of your bio from ALT, how you would follow a lead just to have a good story to tell… and then you worked it in! Great storytelling!

    The photos of Long Beach also remind me of the Vieux-Port in Marseille. How I wish I was somewhere sunny right now:)

  23. this gave me goosebumps!! it just goes to show the kindness of strangers. I know the world has gotten scary, but there ARE nice people out there still. loved reading!

  24. Vivi

    Could you be any more inspiring?

  25. That is so much fun!! I’m glad I kept scrolling down after commenting on your previous post because I was definitely curious as to how the day played out. It sounds beautiful and what a lovely man he looks like.

    PS: Your hair looks amazing!

  26. Nicole

    I’m reading backwards. And I like it! These pictures! Oh my! This is why you’re my favorite blogger. I mean, really.

  27. Sofia

    This is a nice story 🙂
    Way to go for seizing the day! Your new friend is adorable!

  28. Kathleen. You look so pretty when you smile. Please take more pictures of yourself with smiley face.

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