There are moments in life that are just meant to be. Here’s one of them.
When I was 20, I moved to San Francisco … without a lick of help–in any manner–from my parents, in a world without the internet; and in a general state of naiveté, youthful ignorance and excitement. I lasted about a year there then moved back home with my parents and finished up college. I don’t regret that choice.
While I lived in San Francisco in 1983-84–in a “tale for another day” set of circumstances–I met Jude, who was also my age but wiser in the ways of Life and certainly life in San Francisco. Or at least so she appeared to be to me. We became friends right away and spent a lot of time together. After I moved back east, and over time, we fell out of each other’s lives and lost touch. She’d moved here then there. That was long before cell phone numbers that traveled with you regardless of where you lived; long before email was a thing and way before social media was even a consideration. I didn’t have a phone number for her; I didn’t know which state she lived in, and even as social media became a thing, I never found an account for her; nor did any google searches produce anything I could work with to locate her.
While I didn’t think of her often, I did think of her now and again. She’d had a lot of influence on my life and had, among other things, introduced me to practicing Buddhism, which I did for a good 10 years and then a faltering 10 years after that. I held hope that one day our paths would cross again.
Then in early 2010, I was back in San Francisco for a bit. My bestie of many years had sold her house and moved to the SOMA area of San Francisco. Shortly after, I lost my job (got fired), and had some cash and unemployment checks (paltry as they were) coming in to float me for a bit. She invited me to come stay with her while she got settled in. No one needed to twist my arm, and she had a couch we’d convert into a bed for me each night. It was great to be back in the city and to have big chunks of time to spend with my friend. (I was there a good three months or so.)
The January when I arrived was an El Niño year, and while January is already a cool and wet month in San Francisco, El Niño conditions make it even wetter. Those first few weeks I was there, it rained — poured!! — for days on end with little respite. Even when it wasn’t raining, it was just so darn wet and cold out that neither of us felt like going out much. My friend lived in a converted warehouse of sorts with an open design, cathedral ceilings and windows that went from just above the floor to two stories up. When it was sunny outside, it was sunny inside; and when it was rainy outside, we lived in a world of rain, albeit cozy and dry inside.
Rain, rain, rain, rain. For days on end. And then all of a sudden, one afternoon, the clouds broke and the sun was coming through. I said to my friend, “Hey, let’s go outside! Who knows how long this sun will last. Let’s take advantage of it.” So, knowing how temperamental weather can be, especially in San Francisco, we quickly grabbed our jackets and bags, put our shoes on and headed out.
Now, if you know anything about walking in a city, and particularly about walking in San Francisco, which side of the street you walk on can matter. One side of the street may be dark and cold, with the nearby buildings blocking the sun; and the other side may be sunny and warm. We were in one of those situations, but, unfortunately, on the dark and cold side of the street, so I said, “Let’s cross the street so we can walk in the sun.” And we did.
We walked for, I don’t know, maybe a block or so when my eyes lit upon a shape, a walk, a gait, a vibe, an energy I knew, and I started to do a little happy dance. I was bubbling over with emotion and couldn’t yet get my words out.
There–smack dab in front of me, some 15 or so yards away–was Jude! Yes, Jude! The Jude I’d been wanting to reconnect with! We hugged, laughed and did a quick re-hello. She told me she was rarely in the city anymore but that she had come to town that day for an appointment and was just then leaving when we crossed paths.
Seriously. The timing. The co-incidence! The joy in once again saying, “Hey, Jude!”
For your listening pleasure …