A Chance Encounter
by Karla ° Monday, November 19, 2007
We travelled north again this weekend to celebrate my Father-in-Law’s 60th Birthday party, and no drive to Penetanguishene is complete without veering off of the bustling northbound highway and stopping to savour the comforting aroma of a Tim Horton’s coffee.

This is also where I stop and pee because my bladder is the size of a walnut.

I don’t know if it has something to do with sitting still for a length of time, or if it has something to do with the whole wanting what you can’t have mentality, which, um, EWW! But I cannot stress enough how bad my need for a toilet is whenever I am not near one.

Anyway, the place that we stop along the highway is ideal, because after I pee, I can pick up a coffee to help perpetuate the whole drinking and peeing cycle.

While making my way over to the lineup to order a cup of java, I happened to recognize someone I knew from college. He was standing just off to the side of the line with a friend, gaze shifted up at the printed menu items above his head.

As I approached the line, I tried to shrink away into the crowd of people, unnoticed, but I saw him glance in my direction, and before I could shift my gaze away, our eyes met and I saw a familiar spark of recognition sweep across his face.

We were both one of the 15 Mineral Engineering Technology students from the graduating class of 2000, and although we share a deep and common interest in Geology, and whether or not the bedrock beneath our feet contains orthoclase or plagioclase feldspar, I felt no desire to go over and say hello.

The easy excuse would be to say that I was in a hurry to get to a birthday party and that my husband and my baby were in the car waiting for me, but that would only have been half of the truth. The other half is that so much has changed since the good old college days. And part of me feels so entirely disconnected from the world after losing Ava, that I never quite know what to say when talking about my life.

I mean, first of all, how do you not sound like an asshole when you explain that you ditched your career in Geology once you realized that you could make more money as a secretary in a towering sky scraper wearing heels and a fitted skirt? And then once you discovered the glitzy allure of a good paying corporate job, you went back to school and studied technology and made really good money in web development and became the type of person who doesn’t even bat their mascara coated lashes at the price of a $14 glass of wine and who sighs heavily in long lineups to express their self-righteous impatience. And then how do you explain that tragedy struck, and you lost a baby and the entire Universe as you knew it suddenly tilted on its axis and nothing has ever been the same since?

Then again, it’s been over seven years since we've seen each other. Maybe he has also discovered there are more important things in life than being that impatient, sighing jackass in the lineup, too?

A simple, “Hi, how are you?” would have worked, I guess. But when the reciprocal, “So, what are you up these days?” question was asked, rather than telling some sort of polite fabrication about my life to keep things light and airy, I thought it would be easier to just say nothing at all.

So before he noticed the glimmer of recognition in my eyes too, I turned my shoulder to him, abrupt and cold in my hesitation, ordered a coffee and left.

I had a baby and a husband waiting in the car, after all.


Permanent link to this entry


I have been in similar situtaions and done the exact same thing. I don't know why but sometimes its nice to just leave your past behind you.
Posted by Anonymous Anna :  November 19, 2007

I think we have all done this before. As long as you two weren't best friends in college, I am sure he didn't mind.
Posted by Blogger Christy :  November 19, 2007

I've done that, and I usually don't have a good reason. Just nothing to say.
Posted by Blogger Julia :  November 19, 2007

The Past. It's better to leave it that way. You are such an amazing writer. An inspiration. The awkward recap in the coffee line happened to me recently and I wished I turned my hip too.
Posted by Blogger Katie :  November 19, 2007

It just so happens that I, too, saw an old friend while out the other day. I knew her in high school, and we hung out a lot for a while. However, once our friendship had ended, it was just done. So, when I saw her at the restaurant we were eating at, I didn't think twice about avoiding her. I saw that she recognized me, too, but she didn't see the point in talking, either. We were both with family, and eager to eat and keep our kids in line. My mom, though, kept asking me why I didn't go talk to her. Like Julia, I had nothing to say. About all I could remember about her was her childhood house and her first name. Not much to go on there. I'm sure she cared as much about my life as I did hers. (I did think she and her hubby didn't look right together, though! Should I have told her that?)
Posted by Blogger Christi :  November 20, 2007

Can we all say post partum depression?
Some of your posts lately have been filled with a sense of melancholy.
Sorry if I picked up on it... :-(
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  November 20, 2007

Guys usually don't think twice about that kind of stuff.

And hey, does it make me a total jackass that I still sigh impatiently during long lines? I guess it does.
Posted by Blogger Gina :  November 20, 2007

I find after dealing with the other "issues" of life, who has the energy to get into a conversation making nicey-nice with someone you likely will not see again EVER?!

Easy choice, turn the other way and go back to the people that you care about!

I found after my very public loss of my child, going anywhere where I was going even potentially see someone I knew was exhausting.
Even people who didn't know what had happened were hard.

Great post, got me thinking!
Posted by Anonymous ang :  November 20, 2007

Oh honey, there's no shame in that.

I ache for you in those moments, but that thought of your car, so filled with magical manly goodness spanning the ages, it warms my heart.

Posted by Blogger Amanda :  November 21, 2007

Sometimes we make snap decisions and wonder why and then regret them a little bit. Under different circumstances, say chancing upon him in your local coffee shop, you might have made a different decision.

BTW, I welcome you into the "small bladder club." According to my urologist, I'm a charter member. It's true.


Search Untangling Knots:

Search Results:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007