It was March 12, 1995. Exactly ten years and one day ago.
It was the first warm weekend day of the season, and everybody was out taking advantage of it. I walked up to Myopic Books and was browsing. That's when I noticed him. At first I just sort of noticed him in general -- the way he looked, what he was wearing -- but soon I started noticing that every time I would turn a corner and enter a new aisle, he would end up turning the opposite corner and ending up in the same aisle. After this happened a few times, we caught each others' eyes, smiled, and laughed.
But soon he headed out and onto Damen Avenue. I followed him briefly -- followed him for the block to the park, until I saw him turn the corner onto Milwaukee Avenue and disappear from sight. "Oh well -- wasn't meant to be" I figured, and settled into the park with my notebook.
I sat and wrote for a while, mostly about that little encounter at the bookstore. When I looked up from my writing, he was there! Apparently he'd walked home, gotten his bicycle, and returned to the park. Now I had no clue what to do. This was fate, presenting this stranger to me for a second chance, and I had no idea how to take advantage of it.
There was a woman in the park, a photographer, who I'd noticed walking up to random people, talking to them, and then taking their picture. I guess she saw me looking at her because she came over to me and apologized, said that she was taking pictures for some sort of sociology project or class and that she had to take pictures of people in groups of two or three -- that otherwise, she would take my picture as well. Suddenly, I had an idea. I found a blank page in my notebook, wrote "My name is Hope and I like your face. Who are you?" and gave it to her to give to the mystery stranger.
She delivered my note to Daryk, who in short order walked over to where I was sitting and introduced himself, and has been a part of my life ever since. She also took our picture (and our addresses to send us copies of the picture, though she never did send them. What I wouldn't give to have a copy of that picture ...).
I will remain forever grateful that I found the nerve to write that silly little note.