Before I left for a meditation retreat in Vermont, I told my friend Julia that I was going to meet someone there, someone from Boston, someone with a Harvard connection.
I saw him the first night, and before he said a word, I knew it was him. Then I learned he was visiting from Boston, and on the second night, I learned he'd studied American History at Harvard.
We sat on the floor in the room where later we would sleep. Most everyone around us was dancing, and I asked him, Do you feel a little bit like they’re trying to get us to drink the Kool-Aid?
Oh, yeah! he said, I’ve thought that for awhile. It used to bother me, but then I decided I just liked it.
I liked that. We got up and danced.
Messages in the Mail, Part I
The next morning, we hugged goodbye with promises to write letters, and after a few days back in New York, the first letter arrived from Boston. It was two pages long, typed on a typewriter, and included a poem he had written.
We sent letters back and forth for a month and a half, and during our first phone call, he mentioned astrology - a practice he'd studied more than I had at the time - and when I observed something about him, he’d often respond with well, that’s my Mars in Aries or something like that. He, like me, used to demand scientific evidence prior to the formation of any belief, but our meditation practices had taken us elsewhere. I used to only believe in science, but now I only believe in magic, he told me.*
We shared stories of human connection and time and how fleeting everything feels, how so little seems to stick - fleeting connections, he called them - and in time, that is what we proved to have.
But first, he sold most of his possessions in Boston, packed everything that was left, secured it in the back of his car, and drove to New York to visit me before driving to Detroit.
On the Road
When he arrived, we stood in the garage where he parked his car as he dug through the remainder of his belongings, all of which fit comfortably in the back. How wonderful, I thought, to be able to fit everything so comfortably in such a small space, to realize that you don’t need anything more, to be able to take off and drive. He dug through what was there and pulled out his tarot cards. I’d never used them, and I’d never had a reading, but that night, he gave me my first, and in exchange, I read for him.
A few days after he left, while he was still on the road, I woke in the morning with the strong sense that something was wrong. That afternoon, he reached out to tell me that his uncle was in the hospital, that he was rushing back to his family in Texas, and that he planned to stay there while completing his law school applications.
A few weeks later, I sat meditating. I felt a tingling throughout my body and beyond, and I sensed wonderful things happening for him, that in that very moment, he was getting into NYU, that I would see him again someday, and that maybe something wonderful was going to happen for me, and that everything was going to be okay.
That night, he was accepted into NYU, and he was promoted at work.
The letters stopped. The calls became infrequent, but he was still on my mind.
Messages in the Mail, Part II
I ate lunch with a friend from college, a friend who was visiting New York from Texas, a friend who, like me, is curious about all things weird and magical. I told her about the boy. The boy I’d met on the meditation retreat, the boy from Texas, the boy with the cards. Excited, she shared that she had a deck. She showed me pictures of it, and it was a beautiful. I wanted to go and buy it for myself, but tarot lore dictates that you don’t buy yourself your first deck. That it must come to you on its own, inviting you into the practice.
I hadn’t worked with any cards since his visit, and I told him that I wondered what the cards would said now. He didn’t respond. I was hurt, sad, frustrated by how our communication had collapsed since he returned to Texas.
Then, a package arrived - a small cardboard box, and inside, there was a deck of tarot cards - the same deck my friend had showed me over lunch. There wasn’t a note, and I thought maybe it was from her, but it was from him.
Ripples in Time
We didn’t really ever talk again after he reached out to confirm that I'd received the cards, but every morning when I woke, I drew a card, and a few months later, I sold most of my possessions, packed everything that was left into a small storage unit in Queens, and hit the road. That was a year and a half ago.
Since that time, I returned to New York. I studied astrology in depth. I kept practicing tarot, and I started a business, offering both of these practices to others in much the same way that he offered them to me, and I named it Fleeting Connections.
But despite all of those parallels which seem obvious as I write them now, I didn’t see him in any of it. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I remembered he was the one who first said the words “fleeting connections,” that he was the one who sparked in me a greater sense of magic, who introduced me to tarot, and reignited my childhood interest in astrology.
I later learned through Facebook that he chose Stanford for law. He was in his first year there when one of my best friends was in her third. She texted me one day to say she saw him, that of all the halls, he lived on hers.
By then, he and I hadn’t spoken in years, but I reached out and asked if he still believed in magic. He used more words in his response, and I can’t remember what they were - but the answer was yes.
And for that, I am grateful.
*I believe in science and magic. Science is magical.