busy cityIn the era of FaceBook and LinkedIn and Classmates and every other site that allows you instant connection to those that would be long-lost to the past in a previous day and age, there is something so magnificent in the shock of a random encounter with a once-familiar face in an unexpected locale.  Imagine, you are walking down the street in a small village in Romania, and you catch a glimpse of someone through a shop window, and the tilt of their head and angle of their shoulders makes you pause.  Some dusty synapse in your brain flickers in recognition, and you walk inside and there they are, a person you’ve not seen nor even thought of for years.  What are the chances?  It’s almost enough to make you believe in fate.

The more distant the location and connection, the more miraculous this meeting seems.  After all, running into an old high school classmate at a restaurant the same weekend as your reunion is a happy bit of coincidence (or a heart-swallowing disaster, depending on the circumstances), but certainly not shocking.  Likewise, flying to Texas from Boston and discovering you’re on the same flight as someone you met at a college party or networking event the previous weekend is amusing, but hardly earth-shaking serendipity.  There’s already some established common ground that increases your likelihood of a meeting with these people who are moving within similar orbits.

I recently ran into someone I had not seen in a long time, and it got me thinking about some of the more amazing meetings I’ve had over the years.  When I thought even more about it, I realized that four of my most extraordinary encounters are actually linked to one person, the Swedish boy I met in France at age 16, who I still self-defeatingly refer to as the Love of My Life.  And as a logical person with some understanding of coincidence and a more-than-moderate dose of skepticism, I still can’t help but want it to mean something.  Here are those four encounters, in order of occurrence: (more…)


Why is it that you can sometimes feel the reality of people more keenly through a letter than face to face?

Anne Morrow Linbergh, Bring Me a Unicorn (1971)


Dear Mama –

Hi!  I’m writing from the tiki bar at a Caribbean resort, where a cool ocean breeze is blowing gently over the crystal-clear water and pure white sand to kiss my suntanned brow, as tropical island boys in tiny loincloths serve me fresh shellfish and coconut milk.  I can’t wait for tonight’s disco, followed by the bonfire, when I’ll stroll beneath the shining stars hand-in-hand with Pierre, my exotic new French lover of Swedish/Jamaican/Japanese/Brazilian descent.  Tomorrow we’ll take Pierre’s yacht out to scuba-dive by the coral reef and swim with the dolphins, after which the private helicopter will fly us over a dormant volcano.  I only hope I don’t miss my calypso and wine-tasting lessons back at the five-star hotel!

Just kidding.  I’m in my dorm room in New York, wearing boxers and a bra because it’s about 95 degrees in here with no air conditioning, and I’m mainlining soda so I can read a three-hundred page book and write an intelligent paper on it.  My glasses keep slipping down my nose from the sweat, my back is killing me from hunching over on the floor because I don’t have a desk, and I think there’s fur growing on my tongue.  Also, the overhead light blinks on and off in a weird way and I keep thinking I’m hallucinating from fatigue, but I’m pretty sure it’s really happening.  But it’s all worth it, because I’m getting the best liberal arts education that $120,000 can buy.

I miss you and daddy like crazy.  I hope everything’s okay there, and that the animals are behaving.  I can’t wait to get Home.

Love and Kisses – Tailfeather