Tuesday, July 22, 2003

By Chance

There are days when fate intervenes and offers another chance to resume former possibilities. Projecting what could have been, people return from long absences to mark new terrain in one’s life, settling into a different pattern unlike the one that was experienced before. New circumstances but old faces, as if to challenge what might have been with what actually is and could be.
This weekend was the start of a hypothesis on past encounters painting fresh lives. Saturday was V*****. V***** was a girl that I had met almost one month before at a bar – and then later at an after-hours party. We both had a bit to drink and found ourselves together much later in the night, intertwined at the lips and hips. I was pretty sure that I had given her my contact details, but she disappeared without a trace. It seemed a one-time encounter of a great New York night out, but she re-emerged that Saturday evening on the bottom loop, same classic smile shining through the mid-evening light. She came bounding down the path towards S**** (new friend?) and I as we headed up towards the Great Lawn for the 150th celebration concert. I glimpsed in V*****’s direction and held my gaze; she turned her head, too. For a moment, we looked at each like estranged children from a dysfunctional family; then, she called my name to see if I remembered. I certainly remembered her name and that wattage smile; we both stopped and chatted briefly before I finally got her contact details. I don’t know what will become of this encounter, but here is hoping perhaps there is another meeting at another place with far less alcohol – and far more intrigue – involved.
Sunday was M*****. M***** was a good friend from UCLA, a jazz guitarist that I had not seen in five years since our graduation from university. On a pristine summer afternoon, I enjoyed brunch with my friend M*** before meeting another friend, T***, at Dos Caminos on Park at 26th. T*** was watching her friend E**** perform, an ex-marketing chick who was now singing Brazilian bossa nova classics for a luncheon crowd. As M*** and I walked to the back of Dos Caminos – noticing T***’s wave as I had not seen her since our very brief encounter at a happy hour in Mid-town one month before – I looked yonder behind T*** where E**** was singing. Beside her, with guitar in hand and huge smile, was M*****, playing away as olden days. After all this time, he was there, same position as I always remembered him, and the memories came flushing back instantly; we resumed our friendship again.
I spent the afternoon re-connecting with M***** after four years in absentia; our conversation whittled away afternoon hours in Madison Square Park. In the moment, I was intrigued as to the possibilities of building another life with familiar people such as M***** from a different time and place. We become older and mature ourselves in particular ways; whether one month or five years, living leaves its mark. Our lives are constructed with new people and places in mind, hurtling onward at its own trajectory with the characters for the parts as the parts are created. The characters then exit right for the characters of the next scenario, as the multi-act play of experience carries on to its conclusion. When these past characters return for future acts, it makes one wonder what lies anew for old friends.
Does our past haunt us with what comforts us, to ease our fears with familiar faces that keep us from the future? Or does our future result from past and present without prejudice, mingling our living days with reminder that new things come from old, always, whatever the outcome. By chance, I will find out.
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