It was an odd time and place for us to be having breakfast. Our norm is Greek honey yogurt with blueberries, sliced banana, and crushed almonds at around 9 a.m. But because of a particularly hectic morning and a routine-shattering lack of bananas in our kitchen, David and I found ourselves sharing a breakfast wrap on the sidewalk patio of Rubicon Deli at 10:30 a.m.
That’s when I saw her — a specter from my past, her flowy blouse, white short-shorts, and platinum-blonde hair adding to her apparition-like appearance. She had come from behind me and was walking away, so it was her profile and her form — all legs, like a Cameron Diaz stunt-double — that gave her away. I called out her name. She turned and looked right through me in confusion, but when I raised my brows in a “What the hell is the matter with you?” look, recognition dawned on her face.
Pony — that was my nickname for her when I used to blog about our wild exploits. Images flashed through my mind: silver bean-bag chairs in a room at the Standard on the Sunset Strip, a crowded dance floor with an elevated DJ booth, an acrobat in a glitter bikini flipping and twisting on red sashes, dark rooms, and hushed voices, dilated pupils and sunshine over the pool at an after-after-after party.
“Holy shit, girl, what are you doing here?” It had been ten years since our party days. Whole lives had been lived since then. The last time I could remember seeing her in person was the summer of 2004. She had already moved away, gotten married, had a baby, and was in town to visit the old crew. We met up at our old haunt, Nunu’s. After that, the only strings holding us together were the occasional “liked” pictures on Instagram, comments on Facebook, and updates through the mutual friend with whom we had remained closer.
“I just moved here five days ago, about three blocks away,” she said. “To the neighborhood, I mean. I’ve been back in San Diego for about a year.”
“And now you’re my neighbor,” I said, in awe.
My dad doesn’t believe in coincidences — he calls them “synchronicities.” As stars and planets that travel on their own paths for eons suddenly find themselves aligned with each other — everything the same but different — Pony and I marveled at the happenstance of breathing the same air after all the space and time we’d spent apart.
Pony (I can’t remember why I chose that nickname for her...perhaps it had something to do with her unbridled nature) told me she’d divorced and that after a full month with her children (there are two now), the kids had gone to spend the rest of the summer with their father. Which left her the single, footloose, and fancy-free Pony of my party days.
“Have you been to Starlite yet?”
“No, dying to try it,” Pony said.
“It’s dangerously within walking distance,” David offered.
“I have a thing to go to, but maybe after that, or another night soon,” I said. We exchanged numbers, and Pony, who had sat and chatted as we finished our breakfast, walked us back to our place before continuing on to her new home.
It was a day of “synchronicities.” Around noon, I collected my father from the airport and swung by the post office so he could pick up his mail. There, we ran into three friends (all friends my father and I shared). As we smiled and hugged and greeted each other in the shade of a tree, it was hard not to reflect upon Dad’s thoughts about such coincidences. Then again, I reminded myself, the probability of running into friends who lived in the same area was pretty high.
That evening, David and I arrived at a soirée put on by local social-media guru Downtown Rob. After meeting and greeting for almost two hours, we made our way back to the car. “I’m going to call Pony and see if she wants to meet up at Starlite,” I said as I fished my phone from my purse. I gasped when a text from her came through the moment the device was in my hand.
I read it aloud to David: “I just got out of the shower. Going to walk down to Starlite in a few. Let me know if you guys can join.” I texted back that her timing was perfect. I started the car and turned to David. “Okay, that’s, like, really coincidental, right? I mean, the moment I grab my phone to call her she texts? And we randomly — for the first time ever — have breakfast at Rubicon right when she’s walking by? Even I’m starting to doubt that this can all be coincidence.”
“It only seems to be more than coincidence because you noticed it,” David said in his bubble-bursting tone. “The way people walk under streetlights and if a streetlight burns out, they think they had something to do with it. What about all the ones they walk under that don’t burn out? Or the ones that burn out when no one’s around?” I grumbled like an unconvinced Marge Simpson.
“We’re all like raindrops running down a window,” David continued. “The drop hits a random speck of dust and gets diverted one way or the other, then hits another this way or that. It just happened that we were out of bananas — that’s one speck — and that we decided to stop at Rubicon — that’s another. Meanwhile, Pony’s own specks of dust led her to be walking down the sidewalk past the Rubicon at the precise moment we were there. The fact is, coincidences happen all the time. You’re just not aware of them because they’re not affecting you directly in such a profound way.”
I mused over the differences between the belief systems of the two most important men in my life. “Yeah, well, it’s still cool, no matter how it came to be,” I said. David nodded. This, he agreed with.
We sat in a corner booth with my old friend. “Whole lives have been lived,” I said. “And yet here we are.”
“Here we are,” said Pony. “This is going to be fun.”
After a few cocktails and dinner, we walked back to my place and talked until 3:30 in the morning — just like old times. Somehow it felt that out of all the randomness in the universe, some order had been restored.