Good Morning Patrons of Serendipity,
Trying not to sound like the late Andy Rooney, have you ever on pure chance, met up with someone you knew many years before? Although both lives have moved on, the brief encounter can either be enjoyable or uncomfortable. In a twinkling of an eye one is transported to a time and place each shared oh so long ago.
In my 60 plus rotations, I’ve had two such encounters. Each time plans were changed to accommodate the act of fate. The first such rendezvous happened while AWOL from the Army. In my attempts to be discharged, I’d walk off the reservation and after partying with my friends a month or two, I’d turn myself in hoping to rid myself of the internment.
It was 2:00 AM on a foggy fall morning in Sacramento. I was headed to the airport walking up El Camino to catch the freeway in hopes of hitch-hiking to the airport to fly standby. I had heard the military judges at Ft. Lewis, WA was throwing draftees out by the dozen! So I walked.
The San Joaquin Valley is constantly beset by fog. It’s not unusual to be socked in for 30 days straight. It was impossible to see beyond a few feet so I had to use the traffic signals to dead reckon my way along.
Out of the blue I heard the voice of my best friend who was talking with someone. He had been drafted a month before I had. While in Vietnam he became addicted to the abundant Heroin so easily obtained there but had the where-with-all to know he couldn’t take the addiction back to the states! He literally went through withdrawals on the flight back to Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA. where he was immediately hospitalized then released a week later.
On leave he was making his way back home. I yelled out to him and there was a pause of uncertainty so I called his name again. This time he immediately replied, “Oh my God.” I crossed the street and embraced my good friend. We found a 24 hour Sambo’s (politically incorrect) Pancake House and caught up.
Fast forward 2 years later and I’m at Sam’s Hoffbrou in Sacramento (I think it’s gone now) with my good friend Tom (previous story) and had another visit with happenstance. We were making our way through the line snagging a couple of beers when Tom elbowed me and kept nodding in the direction of two women sitting in a booth. Tom says…”She’s been staring at you ever since we walked in…if you don’t go over there then I will!”
We grabbed a booth opposite the two women, and Tom was right. Each time we locked eyes she would have a big smile on her face. This was just too obvious for me to pass up, so I walked over and introduced myself. “I know you” she said still smiling and she definitely looked familiar but couldn’t place where and when.
She made room for me so I sat down next to Suzie Nichols as it hit me just then where I knew her from. She was in one of my ceramics classes in high school! She told me she really had a crush on me but I was a year older and never knew. We started dating and sooner than we realized got real serious. I left to go to college at Weber State in Utah.
I missed her terribly and now between semesters, I drove my Fiat 1100 to Sacramento. Donner Pass is one of the highest set of mountains in the Sierra Nevada range. My little car overheated and actually caught fire as I was trying to get to the top of one of the many summits.
Serendipitous as our meeting was the fire was a precursor to how our relationship died. While at school she started dating another dude fell in love and got married! I didn’t even get an announcement! Jeez.
So the next time you stumble upon good fortune try to ignore it and save yourself from the ensuing fire!