Around 2 months ago, in the very dead of winter, I was eating lunch alone at an Italian restaurant near my work. I like to go there for the long counters and the way the restaurant is somewhat subterranean but still open with windows that face onto the street. It was very cold that day I remember and I was wrapped in a scarf and I just wanted warm pasta. So I sat at the counter and looked at the menu. I placed my order. I looked idly at the clock on the wall and the flustered girl pulling espresso from the machine. After some time a man, a bit elderly, arrived and sat next to me. He smiled. He looked at the menu carefully. Is the pasta good here he asked me. Yes I said I’ve been here once before and it’s decent. Ok good he said satisfied. I am not sure how he pulled me into conversation but he did. I eat alone to be with my thoughts because in a work filled day it is the one territory I can claim as entirely my own. I don’t share what I’m thinking— for me that lessens the arrival of the formed thought. It bears too much influence during conversation. This man was a writer. He was once a surgeon.  He retired at 36 and then travelled the world and wrote mystery novels and historical fiction. He talked about his airy loft on 16th and 6th, his love for his almost blind dog, his travels in Europe and his opinion on pasta and wine. I listened intently and i offered an observation here and there. He seemed charmed by me. My name is André he said. You have a great sense of freedom about you.  Remember that your life is your own— it belongs to no one but you so you can do as you please. Don’t live to please others he said but be mindful that you do no harm. He peered at me closely. Poetry you said huh. I nod. Don’t be afraid of it. Follow your ideas. It is a form of travel.

I still think about what he said to me. And sometimes I wonder if it was mere coincidence. What is coincidence after all except the natural order of the world recognizing itself.

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