published Friday, September 21st, 2012

Leber: Making a U-turn at speed dating bags a bestie

Good things happen in unexpected ways.

A wrong turn leads to viewing of beautiful scenery. A failed job interview leaves you available to take an even better opportunity. A search to find one thing leads to something greater.

Recently, a dear friend of mine came across an unexpected blessing of her own.

Single and ready to mingle, as the saying goes, K attended a speed-dating event, hoping to meet some nice, eligible, attractive men.

Instead, she said, she left with a new lady friend.

Apparently, before the event, the two women began chatting and quickly discovered they both have strong feminist ideals.

While the original goal of the evening was not accomplished -- "I really cannot remember any great men that night," K said -- she and her new pal have continued to forge a bond.

"We spent a lot of time accidentally ignoring (the potential dates) to talk together," she confessed.

Based on previous stories I've heard about speed dating, I'd have been surprised to hear about any post-event soirees going beyond a one- or two-time thing. So not getting a date out of the evening? Not a huge loss.

Getting a new, like-minded friend? An unexpected gain.

I've had my own happy accidents. Getting rejected from my first-choice college led to meeting some of the people I hold most dear. An unexpected friendship with a shy, caring young man made me realize I wasn't getting what I needed from my boyfriend at the time -- and that I was from my friend. A misreading of directions took Joe and me on a three-hour ride through the Amish countryside, when we would have spent it on ugly, crowded highways. We got to our destination in nearly the same amount of time.

Being open to these unexpected blessings, these happy accidents, requires a certain mentality. Some might refer to it as "going with the flow."

I do not come from flow-going stock, and it is sometimes challenging for me to be spontaneous or to deviate from my particular plan. I regret this. I like to fancy myself an easygoing gal with an open heart who embraces all the twists and turns life has to offer.

And while this may not be the case all of the time, or even half of the time, in those moments where I am able to look at a situation gone seemingly wrong and find the silver lining, I'm grateful.

After all, life is full of surprises. Why not take them as they come?

Contact Holly Leber at hleber@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber. Subscribe to her on Facebook at facebook.com/holly.j.leber.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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