Last night I drove to yoga in Gorham. This is a 30 minute drive down route 25. The yoga studio is literally on the same street as my house, no turns. On the way there I passed a sorry looking guy on a bicycle. He had a backpack on and he was dirty and looked tired. I drove past him without thinking much, but that it looked unsafe to be riding a bike on an area of road with no shoulder or sidewalk.
Yoga class was an hour long and after spending some time chatting with the other ladies and our instructor after class I headed back home. On the drive back to Cornish I saw him again. This time he was walking his bike down the road in the direction of my town, my home. He looked tired, so tired and worn.
I took more care to examine him as I passed and I noticed his backpack more clearly now. It was large but not entirely full, one of those camping packs you’d see someone carrying on a hiking trail. It was so dirty, everything about him looked as though it had been rolled through a cloud of dirt, a living Pig Pen from the Charlie Brown cartoons.
There was a cardboard sign fastened to his sagging backpack. I couldn’t make out exactly what it said, but I was pretty sure it read “murderer”. That’s what my eyes saw, murderer, written in black sharpie on a scrap of cardboard, hanging crooked from his backpack.
He was scary to me, surely a drug addict. Or perhaps a murderer. I mean, he is wearing a sign that says so, right.
As I passed this guy for the second time on my street, not too far from my house, I thought, Oh lord, I need to get inside before he rides past my front porch!
I had to water plants this particular evening and I wanted to be done with that chore and safely locked inside my house before this dirty, drug addicted, bike riding, murderer cruised past.
I was home alone that evening. I had already taken the risk of leaving the house and going to yoga class at dusk, I couldn’t risk not being inside by dark! My family was on Chebeague Island without me that week. I had to miss the fun and work. I was falling into my old rituals of single, dogless lady again. Home before dark, check the house for intruders, close and lock all doors and windows, (so what there is a cool Maine summer’s evening breeze tonight), draw the shades, wait until morning, hoping I don’t die. Am I the only one?
Lucky for me, I made it. I got the plants watered and I was about to settle into my safe home, as the sun was setting, when I realized I forgot to take the garbage out. Another unfortunate memory of my single lady days - having to take the garbage out!
I never even thought about the murderous biker again.
I grabbed the garbage and headed for the curb. I drug the can out to the sidewalk and as I was turning back toward the house, there he was. I was face to face with him.
He looked less threatening there in front of my house, me standing frozen still and him slowly pedaling by, one push downward with his leg, the next slow push, then another. It was a slow grind, one foot in front of the other, it seems to be painful and difficult for him to pedal that bike.
I couldn’t look away and what was sure to have only been a few seconds felt like several minutes. Our eyes locked, but he paid me no mind, I looked deeply into him, but it was as if he was looking right through me.
As he passed me I swung around to read the sign on his pack up close.
My heart broke a little. He still had a very long way to go. He’d come a very long way already.
As I stood motionless on the sidewalk, watching him slowly, painfully, pedal away from me, I couldn’t help but think maybe he wasn’t a murderer. He wasn’t wearing that label, as I had irrationally thought the first time I saw his sign.
I started to wonder what his story was, and just as quickly I became less interested in what his story was, but more curious as to why he was placed here in this moment to intersect lives with me? I went out of my way to avoid him. I purposefully tried not to see him on the street, he must have stopped along his way because the timing was off and we logically would not have met, and yet the universe had it so that despite my efforts, we crossed paths at exactly the same time. We locked eyes at precisely the same moment. Why?
I don’t know why.
I can’t stop thinking about those sad eyes, that exhausted dragging look on his face. I can’t stop wondering who’s son he is, and why he was so dirty and why he was riding his bicycle so far. What was in his back back, what’s his name, does his mom know he was riding alone into the night and where is he now? Did he make it? I suppose I’ll never know.
I saw this boy (that’s what he seemed to me now, just a boy) three times in the course of 3 hours. There had to be a reason why we met eyes on the side walk that day.
I’ve always thought it wise never to believe in coincidences, in fact, I read a Deepak Chopra book on the topic once and I’ve never thought of coincidences or deja vu the same again. I like to think that there is a reason for everything. When something seems like a random occurrence I like to challenge myself to consider that it may not have been random at all. I like to look for the reasons why.
I just haven’t figured out what to do when those reasons don’t reveal themselves…
I’d love to hear from you! I’m curious…Do you believe in coincidences? Do you try to find the reason behind things like this, or can you just let it go? Leave a comment below.