This was my mindset as I got on the subway Thursday night.
On New Year's Eve, last Saturday, my friend Marissa and I had taken the 3 train uptown to head to a party on the Upper West Side. We were sitting across from a group of four friends who looked like they were right out of ABC Family central casting. The one female was perky and pretty and wearing skinny jeans and several layers and a jaunty hat that would have looked ridiculous on any woman who did not have the face of a Neutrogena spokesmodel. The men were rugged and handsome and looked Australian (they weren't). The most striking of the three had unkempt shoulder-length hair and Jake Gyllenhaal facial scruff. He didn't say much to his three friends (he was standing even though there was an open seat next to his sitting companions); he seemed almost ill at ease, as if he were one of their cousins who was visiting for the weekend, tagging along for New Year's Eve revelry before heading back to Chicago on Monday. We got off the train right as they all broke out into laughter over some joke one of them made about either a streaker or a stickler, I couldn't quite hear (the former seems more likely). I told Marissa, "If the CW ever remakes 'Tarzan' in 'modern day NYC' where Tarzan is like undercover as a NYU undergrad when he's not swinging on vines, that guy's their guy."
Five nights later, Thursday night, after a distressingly lethargic day, I put on two different coats over a sweatshirt and left for my brother's apartment in the East Village to retrieve an air mattress. I got off the subway and power-walked through the cold to his place. I picked up the air mattress (which my brother had stuffed in a gift bag adorned with the logos of various NHL teams) and immediately turned around and walked back to the subway. I zoned out by the track as the 4 train approached, thinking about the e-mails I had to remember to write when I got home. The doors opened and... out walked Tarzan. The same guy. I did a double take as I moved into the car, hitting the woman behind me with the air mattress bag. And then the doors closed and the train lurched forward and everything felt different. What is this world in which you run into the same stranger twice in one week? In New York City, no less! I felt like I was on a J.J. Abrams TV show or in a prologue to a psychological thriller novel. The coincidence meant absolutely nothing and also everything. How can you feel self-pity and glumness when there is just so much strangeness out there - so much amusing, weird, bizarre happenstance all the time all around you? You don't need resolutions or expectations or rebirths; you just need to go outside.