Chance is a funny thing.
Sometimes we find a dollar on the sidewalk, or run into someone we missed from our childhood after many years or see something that particularly speaks to us.
Giving these little moments our attention long enough to ask, â€œWhat are the chances?â€ or to even go so far as to ponder what could have been, is an acceptable, human behavior. We have a tremendous fascination with alternate timelines and serendipity.
But when one of us decides to write to an advice column, while considering throwing a whole life away in exchange for a chance encounter, we have to question how much pondering is too much.
This past week, via Dear Prudence on Slack, a woman wrote in for advice about something happening in her life that felt like it was coming straight out of Serendipity.
The woman wrote:
â€œSixteen-plus years ago, I met a man at a night club and we had an amazing connection. He was a young elementary school teacher and I was a college student.”
“We danced the night away, and when the time came for us to exchange digits I thought it was romantic to tell him, â€˜If itâ€™s meant to be, weâ€™ll meet again’.â€
The woman then went on to explain that this was during the early-2000s and she was obsessed with the Kate Beckinsale-John Cusack rom-com, Serendipity. Apparently, she had totally bought into the idea that a couple destined would continue to run into each other, so she left it to the fates and didnâ€™t trade phone numbers with him that night.
But it didnâ€™t take too long for her to regret her decision.
The woman continued:
â€œAs time passed, I genuinely hoped I would run into him and definitely regretted that numbers were never exchanged. However, I eventually met the man who would become my husband and I figured that it was obviously not meant to be. I forgot about him.â€
For most, this would be the end of the story.
One of those â€œtwo ships passing in the nightâ€ sort of stories. But for this woman, after an unusual coincidence, she may be buying into the whole â€œserendipityâ€ spiel again.
The woman wrote:
â€œ[I forgot about him] until this August, when the new school year started. It turns out that man is now the new assistant principal at my childrenâ€™s school.”
“The first time I saw him I couldnâ€™t place him, but later that week it all came back to me. When we finally were face to face, there was a look of recognition, but Iâ€™m not sure he could place me either.”
“Iâ€™m a happily married woman with children, and I assume he is too. However, the â€˜if itâ€™s meant to be, weâ€™ll meet againâ€™ thing is really wearing on me.”
“Do I just let this go? Do I ask him if he remembers me?â€
While anyone would probably agree that this could qualify as a â€œblast from the pastâ€ moment, there are certainly a wide variety of opinions about what to â€œdoâ€ in a situation like this one. Especially when there are sixteen years, a marriage and children involved.
Dear Prudence responded:
â€œAs a fellow early-2000s Serendipity obsessive, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to not blow up your happy marriage. The next time you see him, say, ‘David? I thought that was you!’ Start a pleasant conversation, and do not start texting or having solo meals.â€
The advice is clear enough: saying hello and even having a friendly conversation is acceptable enough. Anything beyond that, however, could blur boundaries and lead to other, more difficult decisions.
Whether the woman actually wanted to try to rekindle the one-night flame or simply connect with this man is somewhat unclear.