Chance Encounters

Posted: November 10, 2018 in Life and Memories, My view of the world
Tags: ,

“You wander down the lane and far away, leaving me with a song that will not die…”

                                                                                                                            Nat King Cole

In one of those chance encounters that can happen so unexpectedly in a person’s life, I saw her, my childhood friend and companion of so many years ago. I spotted her immediately as she entered the hallway just a few feet in front of me. I don’t really know why, but I desperately wanted to rush up to her and announce my presence…but I couldn’t. I’m not sure if simple shyness or fear of a cold reception held me back, but whatever the reason, I found myself silently walking along behind her, fearful of approaching. For reasons unknown, she suddenly stopped and turned around and my fears and uncertainties instantly disappeared in a flash as she walked toward me, a smile blossoming across her face.

“Ricky, it’s so good to see you!” she gushed as she unabashedly threw her arms around me, “how have you been? It has been so long.” I despise the name Ricky, having worn it throughout my childhood, but somehow, coming from her it sounded sweet and natural and fitting. We continued to hug like the long-lost friends we were and it lasted for a moment and an eternity and felt amazingly nice. I found myself not wanting to let go but people were beginning to stare, so I reluctantly let go.

I felt the same closeness and affection toward her as I did when we were children. In fact, some of my earliest childhood memories were created with her as we spent many of our formative years together. We sat next to each other in church and also at school, we played together, sang together, discovered the world together and cried together. We  had developed a bond that I have rarely felt with anyone since.

Eventually though, the inevitable happened. At the end of our third grade school year she moved away. I was totally distraught and it seemed like my world was collapsing about me. I still recall the overwhelming sadness I felt the day she left. Life moved on and I moved on with it and even though the emptiness and grief waned, I never quite forgot her.

Thirty years have passed and as we sat and talked, I perceived and experienced the same bond I had felt as a child. It suddenly seemed like only yesterday we were hopping and bouncing on her pogo stick, or playing with stuffed animals or discovering new things and treasures within our yards or walking together to her grandfather’s store to share candy or a coke. I’m not sure whether she felt the same sensations or not, but I suspect she did by the smile on her face as we spoke. Eventually we parted, promising to keep in touch.

This evening as I pause from catching up on work, I can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if she had not moved away all those years ago. I know her life would probably radically different that it is now. She is a successful teacher and mother, happily married to a well respected physician. I am very grateful that I had the chance encounter to meet the grown-up version of my closest childhood companion and I am jubilant she has the wonderful life she has been blessed with. A person can never really know what extreme and considerable differences small changes could have made in our lives. However, as I sit here in the gloaming of the evening twilight, I still wonder though, what it would have been like if she had never moved away.

For Darlene

1996  written under the pseudonym, Richard Corey

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