I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a spiritual person, but I'm a firm believer that, every now and then, the universe makes its presence known. Like that time I was shoe shopping and the last remaining pair of sandals I adored was in my size? A sign from the universe. When I was waiting for college acceptances and I'd see a car driving around with a sticker on it of a school I'd applied to? Sign from the universe. When I got my first callback for Endurance 5 exactly one year (literally to the day) after I got my first callback for Endurance 4? Definitely the universe. But I'd never experienced anything quite like what happened to me on Tuesday.
I'd been having a rough few days (weeks, months, semester). My thesis panic had begun on Monday and hadn't let up; I was about to give a presentation in my final class of the day; I had a hundred stories to code for another class on Thursday; you get the idea. I was just not feeling it that day.
So I was sitting at the shuttle stop in front of the Hecht Athletic Center waiting to go to class, checking Twitter on my phone, when a guy sits down on the next bench over. He's wearing athletic-looking clothes, has a little pink backpack on his back, and is smoking a cigarette and eating French fries. It was weird, but it looked like he came from the direction of the Hecht, so I thought maybe he was a new athlete and the backpack was a hazing thing. I mean, it's good enough for MLB rookies, right?
"Hi!" he says. "How are you doing?"
I'm naturally suspicious of any friendly strangers (call it a byproduct of growing up in New York), and that coupled with my stress meant I was feeling decidedly unfriendly. But I forced a smile. "Okay. You?"
"Good, thanks. You're looking very beautiful today."
I had to stifle the urge to roll my eyes, and thanked him instead.
He offers me a French fry. I stifle another eye roll and politely refuse.
But he continues to talk to me. Resigning myself to the fact that he's not going away, I put my phone away, suck it up and participate in the conversation. He tells me he's thinking about walking onto the football team next season, and asks me my major and what I want to do. I say I want to get into sports journalism and suddenly he's gushing about the University of Oregon. Apparently that's where he did his first year of undergrad, and was seriously waxing poetic about how wonderful their athletic program is.
"So if you want to get into sports, you should definitely get up there and check it out," he said.
I shrug. "If I could I would, but I don't really have that kind of money right now."
"Yeah, I got you," he laughs. And then, after a slight pause, "You know, you can do anything you put your mind to."
I kid you not.
I blink, taken aback. "I, uh... thanks. That's really nice to hear."
He's smiling. "Yeah, I think we all need to support each other more. We all have dreams, you know?"
"Uh, yeah, absolutely."
He stands up and walks over to shake my hand. "Well, it was really nice to meet you. My name's Terrence."
"Hope to see you around sometime, Darci."
And he walks away, dumping his empty container of fries in the trash and bouncing a little on the balls of his feet. I'm left staring, dumbfounded, at his little pink backpack as he disappears down the road.
So, let's recap:
- He sits down next to me at the shuttle stop, but gets up and leaves after only a minute or two, long before the shuttle ever shows up. So he clearly wasn't waiting for it.
- He tells me I can do whatever I set my mind to in the midst of the most stressful time of my life, which I hadn't mentioned to him at all.
- He tries to sell me the University of Oregon without even knowing I'm looking for jobs/postgrad internships in collegiate athletic departments. And, as my dad reminded me the following day, my parents are looking into moving to the Pacific northwest.
It was probably the most bizarre thing I've ever experienced. Actually, no. It was definitely the most bizarre thing I've ever experienced. It sounds like I'm making this all up, but my imagination is nowhere near this good.
The more I've thought about it, the more positive I am that he was the universe telling me to stop feeling so cruddy about the state of my life. And hey, maybe this means I'm going to end up working for the University of Oregon. I'd be totally okay with that! :P
So, universe, thanks for the pick-me-up. I really, really needed it. Though it would've been cool if you hadn't let the shuttle take so long and make me 20 minutes late for class... but I guess beggars can't be choosers!