Serendipity Day was launched to celebrate life’s happy surprises. The word was coined by historian and politician Horace Walpole in 1754 as an allusion to Serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka. Walpole was a prolific letter writer, and he explained to one of his main correspondents that he had based the word on the title of a fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip, because the title heroes ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of ’
I was unable to find any information about Chris Bixler, other than he lives in Georgia, and posts poems at Hello Poetry, but his poem was too good not to share.
To read Chris Bixler’s poem “Unexpected Meeting” click:
An Unexpected Meeting
by Chris Bixler
I sometimes walk down a crowded street, buffeted by a river of humanity, and fantasize in my walking, from here to there, what it would be like if people just moved slower, thought more, danced more, loved more. I’m dreaming I know, a world fit only for the realms of sleep, this what I have imagined. And yet….I can’t help it, walking down a frosted side walk, cars speeding by, snowflakes falling to melt against my coat, and sending a delicious shiver of cold, a sensual chill, that travels up my spine to exit through my lopsided ears, and steal a ride on my steaming breath, out into the cold from whence it came. I’m walking and I’m dreaming, two lovers kissing in the snow, oblivious to those who pass them by. Why can’t I have that, why can’t I gaze into anothers eyes the way they’re doing, and realize in that moment that we would be together forever? Can’t I even fantasize about it, dream about it, in idle moments between the strains and hardships and petty coincidences of daily life? I sigh and walk on, brushing past the cluster of people, standing in the way, gazing with longing and envy at what those two had found, together, in a snowstorm, in between the bustling, ordinary, regular, and boring moments of daily life. I look in through a store window, at the blurred and fuzzy television screens, snow swirling up there in the wintry breeze, and wreaking havoc on the broadcasting towers, away over there. I know I don’t have time for this, for staring idly at the wintry sky, and the blurred, nonsensical images on a set of fuzzy TVs that someone forgot to take inside. I sigh and turn away, glance at the time. 6:15. Work would start soon, a dreary start to a dreary day. Maybe I had time for an espresso, quietly in a corner, in a crowded Starbucks, full of other people like me, trying to get warm, to find a quiet corner to sit down in, amidst everyone else trying to do the same thing. I’m walking again, turning a corner, brushing by, people like eddies of water, swirling around me. I can smell the Starbucks now, can taste the coffee, stale now with the dry and unexcitable feel of countless repetition. I stop outside, and try to remember the first time I entered this Starbucks, how it felt, how it tasted. What was the atmosphere like, was it any different from what I feel now every time I go in? And what about the people, were they always so quiet, so reserved, huddled in corners, alone or in small groups, never talking, never greeting, never standing, till they’ve finished their coffee, and have to then, and go out back to their work, whatever it may be? I stand there, for a while, only slightly aware of the passing of time, the tick tock of the countless clocks and watches spinning endlessly around me, all day every day. I stand there and then reluctantly conclude, with a sigh and a shake of my head, that the Starbucks in front of me, all it’s scents and tastes and it’s muffled sounds, all the atmosphere of the place, was the same as it had ever been, and it was only me that had changed, becoming as much a part of the atmosphere, of the feel of the place as anyone else in there. I found that I was walking again, my steps slow and heavy, and that before I knew it I was inside the place, with all it’s smells and tastes, and slight, unconscious sounds exactly as I had recalled them to be, as if to reinforce the unfortunate conclusion that I had just come to. I sat down and ordered my usual, a ,mocha without the cream, and two bags of sweetener. I watched the waitress as she moved off, laden down with orders and trays. I watched how she walked with a smooth and hitch-less gait, a perfectly neutral stance, meant, I was sure, to support her ability to be nearly invisible, when she wasn’t taking your orders, or walking by. I sighed and sipped my coffee that had sat there for a while now, as I had considered what the smooth and nearly unconscious movements of the waitress might mean. I regarded her for a moment more, and then turned back to my coffee, and became once more a part of the place, it’s atmosphere reflected in me as it was in all the other customers, standing or sitting in the room with me. I finished my coffee. As I rose and tipped the waitress, my thoughts returned once more to my unrealized fantasies, my waking dreams, idle and counterproductive as they were. I was outside, walking again, the cool snow accustoming my face again to the chill crispness of that winters day. I looked up and saw the Chrysler building up ahead, lit up with its thousand lights. I looked back down again, down towards the ground at my feet, watchful for a patch of slippery ice, the practice so ingrained in my nature that it was without thought that I did so, scanning the side walk for any treacherous stretch of ice in front of me. And as I did so I failed to notice any change in direction, or ambiance, so immersed was I in my bleak thoughts. I looked up and found myself far from where I was supposed to be, and with five minutes left for me to show up at work! I cursed once, and then sighed and turned around, searching for any familiar landmarks that might show me the way back to show up late for work, and hope I wasn’t going to be denied entrance because my boss had just about had enough! This had happened before. Finally, yes there was the Chrysler building, glowing, a giant among many. I was preparing to head off to my inevitable scolding, and probable discharge, when I was stopped by a hand on my shoulder, small and warm, a woman’s hand. I turned, slowly, very aware in that moment, of the average percentage of muggings that occurred in this part of town. I would have been prepared, at least to an extent, to have found a gun aimed at my face, or a knife, low, so as to best gut me, if I should attempt to flee. I stared in shock however, at the small card, with a phone number, written in an elegant scrawl being presented to me by a perfectly lovely woman, dressed in a black overcoat and crimson scarfe, standing in front of me with a smile on her pale face, framed by red locks, shot through with streaks of bright orange and yellow. The girl with the flame colored hair, presented the card to me and said, “Hi! I’m Christy.” I simply stared at her for a moment, then at the card. Then,” Madam, I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else, my names Dave August.” She smiled even wider, showing strong white teeth, and replied,” No I haven’t. My organization is doing a charity program, and I thought you looked like you could use some company. We’re having a dinner at 10:30 pm on Sunday, December 15th, and we’ve been instructed to invite whoever we feel should come. Think about it, okay?” And then, before I could react, she had pressed the card into my hands, and was already, halfway across the street, walking quickly, and with a spring to her step. I looked after her, and then, slowly, I smiled. Perhaps I would go to this dinner at 10:30 pm on Sunday, December the 15th. Perhaps I would at that.
“An Unexpected Meeting” © 2014 by Christian Bixler