An Encounter with Magic:
Synchronicity in Salt Lake City
a true tale
Note: G-rated version. A few details have been changed to protect the identity of Jenn.
This story was originally part of my leelas.org website; now discontinued. "Leela" is a word which means "stories from the divine play" in India.
In 1998 I was single, having been divorced for about a year, and was not involved in any on-going romantic relationship. In early Fall of that year, I had taken a one week-plus “vacation” in North Central California which had included a 3 day seminar on heart-centered spirituality at a remote mountain conference center in the Santa Cruz mountains, followed by a number of days spent in a cabin in the redwoods in these same mountains with my friend Julie, who had flown up from LA to join me. Finally, we had spent 4 days at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, before Julie flew back to LA and I headed to my next destination. Although I had originally planed to fly back to the East Coast when my California sojourn was over, my new boss had asked me a few days before I left the East Coast if I would stop over in Salt Lake City (our company had a large regional office there) for a 3 day off-site business meeting on my way back east from California.
I had readily agreed, although inwardly I had groaned a bit. In my mind, having to stop over in conservative, Mormon-driven Salt Lake City (SLC) after 10 days in California seemed like a bit of a let-down. For reasons which were rather vague, I had a number of pre-conceived prejudices and judgments about SLC, primarily to the effect that the city was likely very conservative and not much fun, and that the culture and business community tended to be rather sexist and treat women as less than equals, especially in the workplace. These prejudices and judgments had not been ameliorated, but rather strengthened, by some anecdotes I had heard over the past year from some female co-workers who had actually lived and worked in SLC. In any case, I was determined to make the best of it.
So, on a Sunday night in early September, I boarded a plane in San Jose for a moderately short hop to SLC; this was to be my first visit to SLC in 27 years, and only my second visit there in my life. Although I love flying and airports, at that time in my life I tended to get headaches and sinus aches from any jet flight of more than an hour, so I was not feeling very well when my plane landed in SLC a few hours later. Indeed, I had a splitting sinus headache, and felt loggy and slow. In short, I felt rather crappy, and the headache did not respond to any of my inner or meditative overtures, and so it was destined to stay, since I do not take any medications, even over-the-counter drugs (my body is way too sensitive!).
I picked up my rental car, and, despite the headache and a pre-Winter Olympics-inspired highway construction maze, I managed to find my hotel in Sandy, Utah (southern SLC) easily, and settled into my hotel room to rest for a few moments. Again, even though I was now settled in my room, the headache still did not respond to any inner disciplines, although the inner work did help me to feel centered and rather accepting of everything (including the pain) and so I decided to attend to my immediate priorities: finding some veggie-type food I could eat (I was eating a largely veggie, low fat, no-junk fat diet at the time), and some type of cooler in which to store them in my refrigerator-less hotel room. With that in mind, I headed out to my rental car to try to first find a cooler, and then a grocery store, followed by some kind of meal. Despite the head and sinus pain, I was in a rather peaceful and intuitive state, and within minutes I somehow stumbled on a Target store which was having a close-out sale on summer season left-over Styrofoam coolers, and, better yet, they were marked down to one dollar! Next, I stumbled upon a supermarket next door where I stocked up on fresh fruit and some fresh veggies such as carrots and greens.
Stashing these goodies safely on the backseat of my rental car, I set out to find a meal. I noticed a Fuddruckers fast food outlet almost immediately, and I dimly remembered that Fuddruckers was rumored to sell both veggie burgers and turkey burgers. Still nursing a nasty headache and sinus pain, I entered the Fuddruckers to discover that things were perhaps not going to be as easy as I had thought. The large menu on the wall above the clerks behind the counter showed no evidence of either turkey burgers or veggie burgers. However, I decided to try anyway, and asked the nearest employee, who turned out to be a very clean-cut and very Mormon manager, about the burgers. He turned out, despite the squeaky-clean look and the scary 100-watt Donny Osmond smile, to be very friendly and helpful, and he readily explained that they carried both turkey burgers and veggie burgers, but did not list them on the large menu since there was little interest in them. Since he seemed rather nice, and since I did not eat dairy products or junk oils and fats, I asked him if there were some way we could be sure that neither burger contained any of those things hidden in them. He quickly ducked into the kitchen and returned with the labels, which we read together. Thankfully, the ingredients of both burgers were rather simple, and they were clean of any funny additives or junk oils, and so I ordered one of each -- a veggie burger to eat at a table in their restaurant area, and a turkey burger to go, which would serve as my lunch at the business meeting the next day.
Sitting at my table, I marveled at the friendliness and helpfulness of the manager and the other employees, and mused that maybe SLC was not such a bad place at all. My burgers were ready moments later, and, after burying them in sliced raw lettuce, onions and other veggies at the fixings bar, I returned to my table to eat the veggie burger and some extra veggies from the fixings bar.
Somehow, despite my rather massive headache, I became aware of a young woman in her late 20’s and two young men about the same age at a nearby table; they had arrived minutes before in a pickup truck and were very jubilant. The young woman, while obviously quite married to one of the men, was very attractive, and, despite the chilly evening air, was very athletic and outdoorsy-looking, and was wearing shorts which showed her ample and very well-muscled and tanned legs (I later learned that since SLC is so high in altitude, one can get a tan from being in the sun even at 9 in the morning, and even during the Fall; I also learned that most residents are quite physically active, and hike regularly.) For some reason, she looked very appealing, and this caused me to examine for a moment my own situation: I was very much single, and all alone and newly-arrived in SLC, with no friends at all within 400 miles. Further, and amazingly, considering my headache and fatigue, I realized that I was lonely, and specifically desired female companionship.
So, sitting at the table and slowly munching my burger, I went to my heart center and posed the suggestion that it would sure be nice if I had an attractive woman with whom to spend some time either that evening or for my entire stay in SLC. My thoughts slowing automatically as my focus shifted to the heart, I asked my heart what to do and I was immediately informed that I had a lot of judgment toward SLC and the folks in it (the judgments were: too conservative, too religious, too biased against women, too boring, too rigid, etc.), and, that as a result, I was withholding love and appreciation from the city and its denizens; therefore, I was in a state of separation. Recognizing my judgments and hard-heartedness, I loosened them with love and ease and released the judgements, fear, hostility and wanting which had been there. As this happened, I immediately started to send, from my heart, a wave of love, acceptance and kindness to SLC and its residents, who in truth, had never done me any personal harm, and even offered to me a city of friendly people (at least so far) and with a view of beautiful mountains. I also sent love and acceptance to the small, tight, scared and contracted parts of my own personality, which had sought refuge in judgment and separation, as they dissolved.
Somehow, despite the headache and fatigue, I entered a space of expanded acceptance, appreciation, care, and almost awe, with heightened intuition. I finished my meal slowly, continuing to appreciate the tanned, healthy and almost amazon-like woman at the nearby table without getting much caught up in lust or desire, and then slowly left the place. It occurred to me as I walked and got in my car that I had already passed, a bit further up the highway, both a Hooters restaurant and a strip bar, and that each might afford me at least some closer contact with attractive women. However, I immediately let go of both possibilities: I have never liked Hooters, and I have never eaten at one in my life. Although I have occasionally gone to strip bars (often with girlfriends who enjoyed the show as well), something about Hooters and the concept of Hooters had always felt very demeaning and offensive to me, and thus, Hooters was out of the picture. I also dismissed a visit to the strip bar I had noticed earlier: somehow it simply did not feel right this evening; I wanted no part of that scene this night.
By now, I was in my car, and I slowly started it and started wending my way out of the parking lot. Still mulling over what to do about my sudden desire for a woman, as well as a need to attend to the pain of my blinding headache again, I pulled the car into a parking space a bit nearer the highway and sidewalk. I went again to my heart, sending love and care to my aching sinuses and neck, and then returned to sending love and acceptance to SLC and its inhabitants. After a few minutes of this, I felt a lot better, and even the headache was abating a bit.
Looking up, I suddenly noticed in the twilight a very striking tall and athletic young woman on the sidewalk up the highway a bit, walking south, in the general direction of the parking lot where I was sitting. She had wild blond hair, and was wearing cutoff denim shorts, hiking boots and thick athletic socks pulled up to meet muscled calves, with a blue nylon running jacket draped over a halter top. Even at this modest distance, she looked like an Amazon-like wild woman. Her arms, broad shoulders and legs appeared very well-muscled, and something about her handsome and tanned weathered face, her lack of makeup, her short unpainted nails and her tanned and scraped skin as well as her demeanor suggested that she likely worked outdoors, either on a ranch or in construction. Maybe she was a hiking or rock-climbing guide? I smiled briefly at my interest, and, with a bit of humor and warmth, said to myself something akin to “. . . wouldn’t it be nice if she came over here and talked to me?”, while my rational mind reassured me that there was no way that would ever happen, rather, only in my dreams! Further, my mind reminded me, I was in Salt Lake City, perhaps the most conservative city in the USA, and the chances were totally nil that I would meet a woman, particularly the kind of women I liked (a bit wild and independent, and not femme or submissive) easily. And so, I pulled my attention from the attractive young woman on the sidewalk and returned to my inner discipline of sending love and acceptance. About a minute later, I became aware that the young woman I had noticed, having reached the parking lot, had left the sidewalk and seemed to be crossing the lot to approach my car. She walked up to my driver’s window and said “Hi!”. Rather embarrassed, flustered and confused (how could a dream be coming true in SLC and me with a headache?), I stammered something in return, and we started talking.
Well, to make a long story short, her name was Jenn, she had just turned 33 years old, and she had been walking to visit a friend who worked a bit further down the highway. She was indeed a construction worker, working as a roustabout at construction sites carrying lumber and supplies, and had just worked a half-day that afternoon on a sheetrock installation job site. She confessed that for some reason she had noticed me from the sidewalk, and felt compelled to talk with me; she said I just felt very safe and warm and she knew she had to speak to me. She said that I not only seemed safe, but I seemed to have some sort of mystical energy or presence as well; she said I felt “different” and she was curious about this. I was a bit stunned at this disclosure, because I had just been reflecting that there was something mystical and otherworldly about this woman, a flavor of strange energies and abilities, and a bit of a "presence". She had no idea what to do next, however, nor did I! So, we made small talk. I owned up to my appreciation for her, and that I had admired her from a distance when I first noticed her; I told her I loved her warmth, energy and physical beauty. To me, she was a goddess incarnate, although from her build, her wildness and Amazon qualities I could tell that a lot of the goddess energy was that of Kali -- who could be joyously reckless and destructive. Ah well, I decided: I love to tangle with that goddess! We gave each other encapsulated life stories (she had been married once, in an abuseive relationship, was an ex-biker, was not involved with anyone now, lots of drug and alcohol abuse in her past, and had been clean for two years now, but her life was still a bit marginal), and kept talking. We even exchanged names and contact information on the backs of some business cards which I had managed to scrape up, as we went through about a dozen near-partings there in the parking lot.
Throughout all this, my heart was racing, and I felt a mixture of confusion and awe. I wanted this stunning, powerful and friendly woman in my life, and I wanted to spend time with her, and yet I did not want to be pushy about it. She was a goddess, suddenly materialized into my world, in SLC of all places, and so close to walking away at any moment. Since I did not know what to do, I just kept sending her love: pure, simple, warm love and appreciation. Again, we went through a half-dozen near-partings, each where she started to turn and walk away from my car after one more goodbye. Turned out that like me, she had already eaten dinner, and so was not interested in going to a restaurant for food. Likewise, since neither of us drank much alcohol, we were not interested in going to a bar to continue our chat. Then, I blurted out, more by accident than intent, that I thought she was a goddess incarnate, and that I appreciated her immensely. I had already paid a her a few compliments, and she had paid the same to me, but this was a bit more extreme, not to say dramatic! She seemed a bit awed and momentarily taken aback by my admiration for her, and at the same time, seemed to warm up further. I decided to just keep sending love. That was not terribly difficult, for I was entranced: by her broad smile, wild tangled and unkempt blonde hair, wide green eyes, by her tanned and well-muscled arms and legs, her large, scarred and slightly toughened hands, and by her openness.
Somehow, we never did part. She ended up deciding that although she had already eaten dinner, she was still a bit hungry, perhaps for some raw organic carrots. Well, I had some raw organic carrots in a bag on the back seat of the car, and some spring water back in my hotel room, and so she suggested accompanying me back to my nearby room, where we could bring in the produce and the cooler I had recently purchased, and then settle down and talk some more over spring water and raw carrots.
So, minutes later, we pulled into my hotel parking lot, and together we carried the cooler and bags of groceries past the front desk to the stairwell (you get more exercise using the stairwell than the elevator!) I received a bit of a smirky, self-righteous and surprised look from the very proper young Mormon woman at the front desk. She had checked me in two hours earlier, and had already ascertained that I was staying in the hotel alone, and now here I was in the company of this big, strong and tanned wild-haired woman wearing hiking boots and cutoff shorts, carrying God-knows-what in a cooler and paper bags back up to my room!
We did indeed settle into the room, and continued talking, sipping water and eating carrots. In my embarrassment at our ending up in my hotel room so quickly, and to put her at ease, as soon as we were settled down a bit, I sat squarely in front of her, and looking her warmly in the eyes, reassured her that I did not expect a sexual relationship just because we had come to my room; instead, I reiterated that I just wanted to know her better and appreciate and enjoy her company some more. She seemed to appreciate my intent and words, but did not really seem particularly concerned or worried about my possible motives. Meanwhile, I was in heaven! Here I was, just landed in one of the most conservative cities in the US, with no friends within a 400 mile radius, and here was this mystical, warm, friendly and extremely attractive amazon woman in my hotel room with me, oozing a heady goddess energy and animalistic vitality, where we were eating carrots and talking about opening the heart! Her green eyes were lively and warm, and also a bit wary, and highly intelligent; her smile was wide, open, easy and beguiling. She definitely had street smarts and a surface toughness, and yet she also went quite deep; she was warm, friendly, kind and open. I kept hearing some inner voice telling me that she and I had been destined to meet, and had things to share with one another.
Up close, Jenn turned out to be about 5 feet nine inches tall, with incredibly broad athletic shoulders and an easy relaxed posture. She moved like a gymnast in the spotlight, with a sureness and grace, a kind of broadness and ease. Her face was broad, beautiful and tanned, with a few light freckles on her cheeks from the sun, and she was open and willing to talk about her past, her relationship issues with men, her one failed marriage, her involvement until several years ago with drugs and alcohol. She told me that her heritage was mostly French Canadian, with some German as well. I learned that she was an avid mountain biker, as well as a hiker, and this, along with the construction work and sheer genetics, must account for her awesome build. She told me about her one marriage, which had been abusive, and the few other Western states in which she had briefly lived. For the past few years, most of her jobs had been in construction and heavy labor. She had briefly been a stripper in her late twenties. As we talked, I reflected on this whole encounter: it was entirely unexpected and stunning to me; I was reeling with awe, and yet still feeling a headache, and so, whenever I got confused about how to best handle this situation, I just returned to sending love to her. When I quizzed her, Jenn disclosed that she had no formal background in meditation, heart-centered work, magic or inner disciplines, yet she literally radiated a sense of other-worldliness and mystical knowing. She was a bit awed by my mention that I had formally studied and practiced some of these inner things, and we talked for a long time about these practices and especially about opening the heart and accessing intuition. ) Jenn mentioned to me again that she had approached me in the parking lot because she had sensed something very different and strange about me (in my aura, energies, spirit and being) and approached me to to perhaps talk with me about this. Jenn seemed to me, from the moment I met her, to have a mystical quality and a spooky preternatural sense for things like the aura, body energies, presence of spirit and beingness, and I feel that this sense emerged several times during our times together.
Things became warmer between us after a point, and we ended up in bed. Again, as when I had first met her, I was diffident and cautious, more than content just to cuddle and hug. Her arms and legs, up close, were even more heavenly than they had appeared from a distance. They were were long and lean, deeply tanned, strong, well-muscled and bore many scuffs and scars from heavy labor and probably a few injuries.
She was a bit diffident at first, and, as time passed, she let on that it was because she was in awe that I seemed to appreciate her body so much, and often I appreciated the very things that other males in her life had disliked about her. She seemed simply unaccustomed to being with a male who appreciated her and her fine strong body, and was not quite sure how to handle the warmth and compliments.
A bit later, while we were talking, I explored the idea of a much longer relationship with her, but, iterating a theme which she had broached briefly earlier in the car, she told me that her relationships with men were usually disastrous, and therefore it would be best if we limited our mutual interest to my short stay in SLC. Further, she was not in a very stable living situation at the time, living with a friend until the end of the month, when she would be moving into an apartment of her own. However, we had exchanged some contact information earlier so that we might stay in touch once in a while afterward.
Jenn and I had become quick friends, and she helped to warm the rest of my stay. She was continually amazed and pleased that I enjoyed things about her that other men had always disliked: her broad strong shoulders, her strong arms, short unpainted nails, the trace of golden downy fur on her forearms and thighs, her lack of makeup and nail polish, her strong, scarred legs and large strong hands. She was also amazed that, while in bed, I was enjoying simply kissing, cuddling and playing; this was unusual for her. She seemed as appreciative as I of our encounter.
It seems, in hindsight, that we were destined to meet, for we each had things to share with the other and to tell the other. She was a lot of fun to hold and touch, as well. I often enjoyed just stroking her strong hands and forearms as we talked. She was very interested in the heart-centered work I had been practicing at elsewhere, and I gave her a book on using heart-centered techniques. She seemed awed; it seemed she had read only a few books in her life. We spent a bit more time during the remaining days of my stay in SLC, and then I flew out early on a Thursday morning and never saw her again, although I had gotten, during our time together, to take a few photos of her with my digital camera. We had spoken briefly on the phone the night before, where I had repaeted, in a very light way, my interest in continuing a relationship with her; she again replied, as she had the first time, that she still did not feel ready for any kind of long-term relationship, and that a four-day relationship was about all she could handle. And so we parted. She still has a warm spot in my heart, and her picture is on my wall to this day, in memory of a sacred and beautiful moment with a goddess incarnate.
Jenn and I had at one point traded phone numbers and addresses. In her case, since she was in the process of moving from one housing situation to another, she gave me her mother's address and phone number, as her mom had lived in the same house inSLC for over 10 years. I tried calling her mom's phone about 6 months later to track Jenn down, but learned that she was out of state for a few months. When next I tried calling her mom's house a year later, I learned that her mom had apparently moved and that the number was no longer assigned. A letter which I eventually sent to Jenn via her mom at her mom's address was returned by the post office; her mom had moved a bit over a year earlier, and her new address was unknown. I learned via an Internet address search on her mom's name that she had indeed apparently vacated the old address a year earlier, and that there was no longer any phone number or address for her name anywhere in Utah. A similar search had already shown no phone number or address listed for Jenn herself. And so I let go of any further efforts to stay in touch with Jenn, with a smile and gratitude for that which was now done.
I have mentioned above that Jenn was an ex-biker. She wore a silver/carved gemstone medal on a chain around her neck, along a piece of jewelry which resembled a half-moon carved from a buffalo tooth. Strangely, my dear mystical and Amazon-like friend Greta, who lives near Jackson, Wyoming, wears a similar piece around her neck. The exotic piece around her neck only added to the air of mystery, magic and mysticism surrounding Jenn. Hmm. . . I once read a strange book about a band of mystical biker women of the southwestern desert who were not what they appeared to be, who each wore a strange artifact on a chain around her neck, and who were actually near-angels, or perhaps goddesses incarnate, with awesome abilities. The author was Paolo Coehlo; the title The Valkyries, An Encounter with Angels. I remember that when I read the book, I became enamored of the powerful, independent, crazy, wild and beautiful Amazon-like biker women (named Valkyries, after the old legends of the goddess-like warrior women who walked between worlds) and remarked at the time to my friend Eve: "Darn, why don't I find any of these women in real life?" Well, my request had just come true; I had just encountered such a goddess/angel, and my life was definitely shaken by the magic and the synchronicity of the whole flow.
I sometimes realize that my only job is to pay attention, remember to do what I love and remember to love and accept everything and everyone, no matter what. Sometimes, I forget all this as well, and get caught in the ruts! I feel that we are all living awesome stories, if we can just put our hearts and attention into our lives, rather than our expectations and judgments. It is something subtle and yet not-so-subtle about bringing spirit into matter, and light into darkness, a kind of sacred sorcery or prayer. Then somehow, awe, appreciation and grace enter, and everything is somehow transformed. I can tell so easily in any moment or on any day whether I am in this state or not. At times, it can take some strong measure of self-discipline and patience, when I realize that I am in "mental expectation time" or a constricted space, to soften and slide back into the space of acceptance and blessing.
However, when the messenger is a mysterious, attractive wild ex-biker woman who exudes a strange kind of Kali goddess energy, then I am again reminded to pay attention. Especially when there is an incredible openness in her face and eyes, and I sense that an ancient being is smiling through her!
The question arises: did I “manifest” the encounter with Jenn that night, minutes after I had asked for an interesting and attractive female companion? I don’t know, but I do know that I was definitely in a loving and accepting state that evening, and in a state of intuitive flow. In that state, things seem to happen at an accelerated pace. I find the stuff flows the easiest, and comes closest to what New Agers call "manifesting" if and when I radiate love and acceptance from my heart center, with just a tiny awareness in the back of my mind of what I think I may need.
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