Posted by susan on July 29th, 2009. Filed under: epicurious travel, everyday adventures.

There are Italian restaurants in the North End of Boston that are so small and authentic that most of the seating situations are right on top of one another. At times, you will sit next to another party and even though you are strangers, a mere inch between tables separates you and  it feels as though you are sharing a table – which can make for an interesting night. Last night, when Mike took me out for my birthday dinner, we found ourselves in this very situation.

We arrived at G’Vanni’s at about 7:30 and sat next to a couple that could hear just about every detail of our conversation, and vice versa. They actually had a better experience at G’Vanni’s for lunch than dinner because you can get a whole meal and a bottle of wine for just 27 dollars. No, we hadn’t talked yet, I know this from eavesdropping….

As we ate our meals, it eventually became too awkward to not speak with each other and we immediately dove into conversation. They have a daughter who is a teacher and a son-in-law who is a resident at a local hospital. They are from New York and they are obviously Yankee fans, and they were happy about the Giants’ Superbowl win, though they were very nice about it. We compared Boston’s “Little Italy” with New York’s (we won that one, thank you very much) and we even discussed real estate across the Northeast.

The couple we practically shared our dinner with, and also some red wine, have been married for over forty years and they have the kind of charisma and comfortableness that I know I will have with Mike 40 plus years from now. What was meant to be a low key celebration between two people quickly evolved into a group dinner with four very different people, all at very different stages, places and backgrounds in their lives.

It made me think about the importance of being constantly open to making new connections, wherever you find yourself. Getting to know complete strangers, believe it or not, can really give you the type of thrill that walking into totally new cultures gives you – no matter what, you learn things about them and even yourself.

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