Meeting My Neighbor on a Japan Cruise

by Ruth Kawamoto

Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan
Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan

After 30 years of living literally a stone’s throw apart, I finally met my neighbor.

Our introduction came on a late afternoon just this past May. My husband and I had just spent the day in Sakaiminato, Japan, and we were boarding the shuttle bus that would take us back to Sun Princess.

Keith and I had spent the morning at the Adachi Museum of Art and the Yushien Garden, and the afternoon walking through the whimsical port city of Sakaiminato. We were pretty tired by the time we took our seats on the bus so we only attempted the most perfunctory of conversation with the couple seated opposite us.

We quickly learned that we were all from California. As we usually do, we said we were from the Los Angeles area, opting to be general rather than delve into the specifics about what particular part of the city.

Our fellow passengers also hailed from the Los Angeles area. Now that we knew we were talking with fellow Angelenos, we spilled the details.

To our surprise, one of our fellow passengers, Chuck Perelman, came from Culver City, a small, separate city on the west side of Los Angeles. Keith and I perked up. “What neighborhood of Culver City did we live in?” Chuck asked.

To our even greater surprise, we discovered the three of us lived in the Sunkist Park section of town. Furthermore, we lived right around the corner from each other!

Chuck asked if we were familiar with his ham radio tower, which is impossible to miss in our neighborhood. I mentioned that I was the crazy lady who walks a huge German shepherd down his street every morning, and my husband, Keith, pointed out that if he lobbed something out of our yard, he could land it in Chuck’s yard!

Chuck has lived in the neighborhood for 48 years and we have lived there 30 years. None of us are shut-ins, yet we never had been introduced to each other. When we sought each other out on the cruise ship later and compared notes, we realized that we likely had seen each other in local stores and at Neighborhood Watch events—we’d just never had the opportunity to meet.

Now that we had met, we found Chuck very easy to talk to; anyone in ham radio would like to talk. He is a retired lawyer and I am a trial administrator at a big law firm, so we had that in common, too.

While we live just around the corner, it took a Princess Cruise around Japan, half a world away, to bring about our introduction. We had such a huge laugh about that.

Now that we are all back in Culver City, whenever Keith and I glance at the ham radio tower, we think, ‘that’s Chuck’s.’ In the early morning, before 6 a.m., I walk our dog past Chuck’s house. I always smile and think of the utter randomness of our meeting and how it took Sun Princess to make sure longtime neighbors are no longer strangers.

Ruth and Keith caught the cruise bug while traveling to Alaska with their sons, and are now considering destinations for their sixth Princess cruise. They believe the best part of cruising is the many new people you meet onboard.