“Coincidence is the language of the stars. For something to happen, so many forces have to be put in action.” –Paulo Coelho
One of my favorite episodes of “This American Life” is number 489, “No Coincidence, No Story!” In the episode, they dive into why people put so much stock into coincidences, how it makes them feel a part of something cosmic and special. If you’ve ever experienced it, you know it can feel so out there. Anyway, they took the title from an old Chinese saying that says if there isn’t a coincidence, it can’t be a good story. I’m banking on that being true for this post!
When I was 21, I went dancing on the seedy side of the magical kingdom in Anaheim, California, and I lost my driver’s license. I tried to find it, but nothing was doing. I tend to block out trips to the DMV, so I got a new one and forgot about it.
Fast forward to a few years later, it’s October 2012, and I’m invited to a costume party in Long Beach by one of my favorite humans, Francesca Sciamanna (shout out—love you, girl!). I had a teeny tiny circle of friends, mostly people from work or at the community college I occasionally attended, so I was excited to have a night out.
I think it was Francesca’s sister’s boyfriend who threw the party? I’d never been anywhere in Long Beach but the aquarium and Joe’s Crab Shack. We pulled onto a street lined with cars, and made it up to the split-level. I was dressed like a pirate for the 2nd year in a row. I had dropped $40 on a sweet pirate hat the previous year, and was determined to get some more use out of it. Francesca went in a Día de los Muertos inspired outfit. We passed under some twinkling lights, and by all manner of costumed guests. The party was packed.
It’s important to reiterate that Francesca was the only person I knew at this party. I mean, I’d met her sister, Sara, of course, but that was it. Anyway, I end up in the kitchen talking to a guy while Francesca is off in the bathroom. Three girls are standing in the corner staring at me, and they’re like, really staring at me. It quickly progressed into whispering in a conspiratorial manner. If I may borrow a phrase from Mariah, I didn’t know them. So I did what any good pirate would do—I finished my beer and shot them dirty looks. Then I confronted them.
“Can I help you?”
“No, really, what are you looking at?”
One girl stepped forward, and I swear, she took a long moment. You have to know that I couldn’t imagine what she was going to say, but her face held more awe than it did anger. She even looked a little scared. When she spoke, it came out as a whisper.
“Are you…are you Britany Golden?”
Now I was staring. Really, my heart was doing backstrokes in my stomach. I was sincerely confused.
She looked back at her friends, and repeated herself.
“Are you Britany Golden?”
“Did you lose your ID in Anaheim 4 years ago?”
The crappy club in Anaheim, the search, the trip to the DMV. It all came back to me.
“I found it, and I kept it. I can’t believe you’re here,” she continued,” I used it as my fake ID for years. You’re Britany Golden!”
By now, everyone in and around the kitchen had figured out what was going on. It was all kind of a blur after that. I think I ran to find Francesca so I could tell her. I didn’t think to exchange numbers with my imposter, or to ask if she still had my ID.
It’s still one of my favorite moments on this planet. It was so wild. Did it mean anything? Who knows. If there is some kind of cosmic lesson to it, I haven’t figured it out yet. It felt like something special happened. At the very least, I was in the right place at the right time.
If you love coincidences and want more, check out that cool episode of This American Life. I love to hear about any and all coincidences, so please feel free to share yours in the comment section!