Slice of Life: The Butterfly Effect?


“We human beings don’t want to be alone, especially during the hard parts.”
Lucy Calkins

My week at the TCRWP August Reading Institute reaffirmed my knowledge that, when it comes to working through the hard parts of reading and writing workshop, (and, as Katie Wood Ray assures us, “they’re all hard parts”!) I have a worldwide community behind me. And, thanks to the internet, at my fingertips.

But just as often, we want someone to sit next to and talk with face-to-face about our triumphs and small victories, our missteps and questions. Sometimes it’s comforting just to talk about life in general.

We all have these people in our lives. We turn to them often and are there when they need someone to listen. Inevitably, we turn to different people at different times in our lives. People move away or change jobs, our routines alter and we just don’t see them as often as we once did.

This has happened to me with a friend of almost thirty years. Our boys were in the same class and we went back to school to finish our Bachelor’s degrees at the same time. We were in many  of the same classes, carpooled when we could, and commiserated over professors. We stayed in touch after we graduated, even though our boys were getting older and we both were now working full time.

Then, a few years ago, Rosemary and her husband moved to Florida. For whatever reason, I didn’t get to see her before they left. I felt terrible for not having called her all those times I’d meant too.

Fast forward to last Friday afternoon. I was exhausted from my week in New York, but had plans to have lunch with a woman I’d gotten to know at last year’s Institute. We both had travel arrangements, but managed to squeeze in a lovely meal together.

My next stop was Grand Central. Traffic in midtown was crazy, but I sat calmly in the back of my cab as the minutes ticked by and I missed the 2:47. “There’s always the next train,” I reminded myself. Which I made with time to spare. Once we were out of the tunnels, I texted my husband to let him know when to pick me up. He soon texted back to say that the highway was backed up for miles.

“Not to worry,” I replied. “I know a back way.”

The train ride was uneventful and we were soon pulling into the station. Once settled in the car, I directed my husband away from the highway toward our very round-about route home. As he drove, we chatted about the week. More importantly, we discussed where we were going to stop for dinner. We hadn’t decided on anything specific when we came upon a diner we’d both heard people rave about. “Let’s try it,” said my husband, who loves eating at diners.

As the hostess led us to our booth, I noticed a woman with dark hair and glasses sitting nearby. “That woman sure looks like Rosemary,” I thought. “Oh my gosh, that IS Rosemary!!”

After hugs and questions of  “What are you doing here?” were exchanged, we had a quick chat (She was having dinner with a friend and I didn’t want to intrude on their time to catch up.) and made plans for our own “date.”

Isn’t it funny how things work out? If I hadn’t had lunch with Karen and missed the train I wanted to be on, we might not have stopped at that diner. Depending on which website you read, this chance encounter was either the result of “the butterfly effect,”  a coincidence, or was just a random event. I don’t really care. All I know is that I was happy for a chance to reconnect with my old friend and am looking forward to catching up with her. She’s been by my side during times good and bad, and always made me feel that I wasn’t alone.

By Rhett Maxwell (the other butterfly effect) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rhett Maxwell (the other butterfly effect) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Thank you to StaceyDanaBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lisa for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

10 thoughts on “Slice of Life: The Butterfly Effect?

  1. I read every word wondering where you were going on this route home. I love how you happened upon seeing your old friend. Life is like that sometimes. Serendipitous. We just need to be alert and ready at any time. Look for those butterflies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How lovely to end your inspiring, exhausting week with the gift of a serendipitous meeting of your friend. I loved how you built up the randomness of each event (a missed train, an alternative route, etc.) until the layers were so convoluted that I knew somehow that meeting was meant to happen! Enjoy your “date” with your friend!


  3. Meeting Rosemary again was the icing on the cake of an already amazing week at TC! What a fabulous way to wrap up the summer!


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