• Gretel Enck

Coincidence // Magical Thinking

Updated: Mar 21, 2019



I have mentioned before the prevalence of coincidence in my life. Alignment with my path? No coincidence, no story? The past couple of days I’ve had some doozies, and it seemed like as good a time as ever to break the blog silence (just been dang busy).


Let me first take you back to April when I visited the Great Salt Lake and the Spiral Jetty. I was fascinated by the blowing balls of foam off the lake and likened them to escaped prisoners the way they would run after each other, get stuck, not wait, and generally exhibit chaotic escape. I wondered if there was a term for a group of escape convicts, like we might term birds: gaggle, flock, herd, parliament. OK, hold that thought…


I work at a nature center now. Yesterday a coworker was admiring my raven collection and asked if that would be a murder of ravens like a murder of crows. I did not know. We started naming all the funny group names used for birds, and then we googled more. It made me laugh and think of the escaping seafoam balls at the Great Salt Lake. I told the story about searching for a word for prison escapees.


Last night I walked down the street to a uniquely Marfan evening of a Portland music trio that scratched out a dissonant, discordant, cacophonous racket (in a very good way) to a collection of video images. The first piece was fifteen minutes of accompaniment to images titled “FOAM.” Yes, fifteen glorious, mind-blowing minutes of crashing surf and foam balls running across the beach…and more seafoam balls and more. Really, my brain exploded in cacophonous foam balls. The video, though, was so heavily populated by runners that it seemed more like a marathon than a cluster of prison escapees. Well.


Today’s example is more purely magical thinking. Cold morning and I’d had the heat on overnight. I bundled up and went to Alpine to do some grocery shopping and print flyers in preparation for staffing the Blackwell School tomorrow. Came home, put some things away, put together a bag of coffee and tea for Blackwell to put in the car, trimmed up my Blackwell postcards to take to the Marfa visitor center for distribution. I walked out of my front door with everything I needed in my full hands. I didn’t have a free hand to lock and close the door.


Meanwhile I was thinking how warm and beautiful the weather had gotten outside. Too bad I can’t leave my door open, I thought. My apartment gets so stuffy, and frankly my heater is a little smelly. The front door is the only source of fresh air; none of my windows open. So I’m putting the stuff in the car, wondering if I dared leave my front door open and drive away. How great would it be if I could somehow lock my screen door and leave. Impossible, of course, since the only lock is the metal hook and loop on the inside.


I walked from my car back to the door with the intent of opening the screen door, reaching in to the solid door, turning the lock on the inside of the knob, closing it and the screen, and being on my way. To my surprise and confoundment, I could not open the screen door. Huh? Tried again. Nope. It was locked. From the inside.

After a curious moment, I realized that when I had let the screen door fall closed behind me, the one in a million had occurred: the hook on the inside of the door had bounced exactly into its loop. Not impossible, after all: it bounces around somewhere every time it closes. It’s just that it did exactly what I wanted it to do.


Since I had everything with me that I’d intended to take, I took advantage of the situation and went about my day. I put up my flyers, had lunch with a friend, and bought some baked goods for my museum shift tomorrow. Along the way, I got a recommendation about a handy fellow who could McGuyver my door open. When I got home, I attempted to contact him. While waiting for a return message, another friend walked by and we chatted. I explained my predicament. As we were talking, a very easy solution occurred to me. I had feared having to damage the screen. But in the end, I took a tiny screwdriver out of the toolkit in my car, made a small opening in the screen, slid the screwdriver in, and popped the hook. Then I pushed the wires of the screen back together, fixing the hole. Piece of cake.


I don’t know what it means. It doesn’t mean anything. Just…I love my life. 

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