Swift Headline
Latest News and Updates

Casual encounters of the most longed-for kind – Monterey Herald

My husband Michael and I went to Spain for our honeymoon some 20 years ago. In the small town of Ronda — where bullfighting began — we had the best meal out that, to this day, we’ve ever had, at the beautifully named restaurant, Tragabuches. The appetizer was a warm, savory, thick-drink cream served in a shot glass. We enjoyed a fine bottle of Rioja. Our hotel was simultaneously quaint and opulent. All night, we strayed not far from each other’s arms. I’m writing this not because we are on the eve of an anniversary. What made me think back to that time is an encounter I had while in Ronda. No, two encounters, actually.

The next day, with a thick stack of postcards in need of stamps — back when people sent postcards — I found a tobacco shop, seemingly no bigger than a postage stamp, where I purchased what I needed. Walking to a corner of the store, I began licking when the shopkeeper approached me, took half my cards, offered me her stamp-wetting machine and together we affixed postage to all the cards. My Spanish isn’t great; her English was nil, yet to this day I recall with fondness both her kindness and our shared momentary, unhurried intimacy. Her line of customers waited patiently until we had finished.

Farther down the avenue, Michael and I started down a flight of stairs when someone grabbed my arm. Aghast, I pulled it back and looked to see who was trying to steal my purse from me. A teeny-tiny elderly, white-haired woman swatted my arm in disgust. “I thought you were a thief! Lo Siento,” I said, extending my arm to her. Of course, she was offended, “A thief?!” We shared pleasantries as I helped her down the steps but I remained red with embarrassment long past when we said goodbye.

“Approaching Eye Level,” a collection of essays by Vivian Gornickmade made me realize something I’ve been missing for this past year but hadn’t put into words. Something that I’ll bet you’ve been missing too. Gornick’s title essay is filled with causal, coincidental encounters similar to mine in Spain. Only hers take place in New York City, where Gornick lives. Mostly, she writes about brief, surprise conversations that she has with those she runs into out on the street, but she also shares interactions she witnesses like these two men dressed in denim work clothes.

“‘Hey, how’s your new place?’ one asks the other… ‘What kinda furniture you got up there now?’

‘Ah, it’s terrific. I got a beautiful black leather couch.’

‘No kidding!’

‘Of course, my car’s without a back seat now.’”

This is the stuff of normal, everyday life —observing others in the midst of their lives lived in the public sphere and experiencing our own. At least it was the stuff of everyday life until we were forced out of everyday life and into our shuttered houses. And I miss it. Like crazy. I long for life’s coincident and random coming together between friends and strangers. But I am possessed, mostly, of a good memory. And I am remembering, not only various conversations themselves, but the feeling of stopping and saying hello to whomever I might run into.

One time, long after this kind of thing could fairly be experienced, in other words, when I was south of 50, I was at the Farmers Market in downtown Monterey and I tripped, flailing-ly so, something that is always embarrassing, particularly if witnessed. I looked up to the smiling face of the handsome young man who’d seen my inelegance. “That was a trap,” he exclaimed, “a beautiful woman trap!” I have never been beautiful. But that day, despite my lack of grace, I most certainly was, for the joy of being seen as such.

How often a casual interaction is the beginning of something good. That’s how I happened to meet the very same husband with whom I honeymooned in Spain. Out to breakfast, alone, a couple I knew, but not well, walked into the restaurant. Enjoying my solitude —though I hate to admit this now — I turned my back to them. The husband saw me, anyway, and invited me to their table. While enjoying easy conversation and delicious sourdough toast, I asked the woman, Marta, who is now one of my dearest friends, “Do you know any decent single men?”

The very gears of her mind became momentarily visible, and she said, “We’re having a polenta party and you are invited and our decent, single friend Michael will come but he will not know he is being set up.” Her husband looked at her like she was crazy. “Mart,” he said, “what polenta party? Don’t get involved!” But, hell, thank God and all the angels, she already was.

Life is not meant to be orchestrated, or not entirely. We are truly and wholly meant for each other, meant for the person you don’t know you will see when you walk down Ocean Avenue or Alvarado, or in some location far from home, the person you will see as you are enjoying the first taste of an ice cream cone and, because it’s warm, there is suddenly ice cream all over your face and you feel like you are 3-years-old again, and the person you didn’t know you’d encounter is laughing, but not at you, with you, truly with you. And whatever sorrow either of you may have been carrying before that moment, falls to the ground like ice cream drips, and you are glad to see it go.

I have missed these random meetings all year long. Sure, there are people to say a masked hello to at the farmers market or the occasional elsewhere, but a masked hello isn’t what I long for. It’s the twinkling eyes and the tooth-full smile I miss.

The other evening, I walked around the block, which is as far as my injured foot will take me, and there was my neighbor Rey Reyes also taking an evening stroll, so we chatted food as we often do. He brings me dinner extras, and a batch of cookies from my oven always includes some for Rey and his wife Tammy. A little farther down the street, there was neighbor Juan Sanchez, coming out of his house. Introductions were made. Turns out, former Del Rey Woods principal Rey and musician, music educator Juan had already met, though it had been years ago.

We stood in the darkness. Chatting together. And, yes, there was laughter.

Del Rey Oaks writer and poet Patrice Vecchione is the author of several books including, most recently, “My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice: A Guide to Writing Poetry & Speaking Your Truth” and “Step into Nature: Nurturing Imagination and Spirit in Everyday Life.” Her titles are available wherever books are sold. More at patricevecchione.com

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Swiftheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – admin@swiftheadline.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment