Saturday, October 8, 2011

cheesy encounter, seattle in manila

Just when I think I've put Seattle behind me...

My two weeks in Seattle this summer was a very interesting time. It was special--and that I can say this now, that I can say this first, without flinching is a big deal I think. It was full of unique experiences. I met some beautiful people, saw some amazing things. But it was also a complex time, where I had to confront the worst of my fears and I was really hurt by someone I loved and trusted.

But that was late August. I left Seattle first week of September. Since then, I've been to Oakland and San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Hong Kong. And now, I'm here, home in Manila. Seattle should be millions of miles away.

We are shopping for bread. Or rather, my good friend Christina is at a local delicatessen. I am tagging along with her and her baby boy Maceo. This chain of specialty shops called Santis dot the city, providing Manila's refined with a steady supply of fine imported wines, canned goods, fresh meats and cheeses. We walk to the one closest to her home in Rockwell, where a store attendant steers us towards a cheese tasting booth.

There, an older man dressed in full Dutch national costume, wooden clogs and all, talks cheese. His assistant, a younger blond woman, who looked like a dairy maid in her national attire, cuts cheese. Cheese is on display. Cheese samples are on toothpick ends for tasting. I look at the names and turn to Christina, "I've had this cheese in Seattle."

Ewephoria was its name. Introduced to me by my hmm former-love-interest, not in Seattle, but in Bellingham, two hours away. Small details. He had shared with me that this was the cheese that Jans made. Jans and his wife Catia have a place in Orcas island, where he and our friend Paul Millage held a yoga retreat, the very same retreat where his attention strayed and our love was first betrayed (I can say this too, without flinching much, another good sign).

Later, I would spend 3 days in Jans and Catia's house with Beth, another new dear angel/friend, who was house-sitting for the couple. There in Capitol Hill, I finally addressed the wounds of my bruised ego and broken heart and found the strength to leave Washington state.

"Ewephoria. Is that a general name for this kind of cheese? Or is it something you specifically make?" I ask the clogged man.

"I make this cheese," said he.

"I had this cheese in Seattle," I tell him. His eyes light up at my mention of Seattle.

"Hi, my name is Kaz," I introduce myself and offer my hand, "I stayed in your house when I visited with Beth Leone."

I tell him about how I helped tidy his house and water the garden with Beth. I tell him how I came across his cheese in Washington. I mention the boys and briefly gloss over the time I was visiting them.

Jankos is a lovely, sweet man, very warm, totally eccentric looking in his Dutch national costume. He tells me about his Manila tour promoting his cheeses, which are really extraordinary (Honey Bee, which the boys were looking for because it was so good, is my favorite of the lot).

He invites me back to Seattle and adds, "Next time, come to Orcas. Its beautiful. You must come to our place in Orcas."

Christina and I wheel Maceo out of there, and I'm more than a little weirded out by the experience of meeting this person that oddly connects me back to my time in Seattle. It was wonderful to meet him, to feel excited to share my experience with our mutual friends. But odd too.

Suddenly Orcas is in my head again. Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands in Washington State, which I could see from Paul and Sonja's house in Bellingham. Its a place of great beauty, I've been told, but I associate it with great heart break too. And, yet, here in Manila, I meet Jans, who belongs to there, who invites me back.

Orcas is in my head and as I drive home I am so totally distracted that I miss three turns, making it an extra long trek to my dad's house. Just as I finally get back on track, I wonder out loud (yes, I like to talk to myself as I drive) what does this mean.

As I turn a corner, I see a colorful truck with two words beautifully painted on it: "I believe." What in the world is that supposed to mean?

Now, I know I could easily just chalk up the whole cheese encounter as simply random and wacky. Still, I pretty much believe that there's a purpose to everything, that life's little coincidences have greater meaning. What this encounter with Jans means exactly, I have no idea whatsoever. Maybe I'm supposed to go back to Orcas. Maybe I have more internal work to do with this strange time in my life. Who knows?

What I do feel certain about is this: there are certain things we are meant to experience, there are certain things that we can't run away from, no matter how much distance we put between ourselves and the other.


  1. Wow! What a great story! I too believe there is some divine guidance, perhaps there are hidden patterns so complex we just aren't aware of them (yet) but that lead us to meet the people we need and to have the experiences we can best grow from, as hard as it is sometimes. love and Light to you Kaz on your path, I hope we meet one day.
    This is Jan's wife, Catiya, reading this and writing to you from IS a small world.

  2. Catiya! So nice to, um, encounter you, like this. I hope next time in person! The world is small indeed. Thank you for your wise words. I think you are right, there is divine guidance, however mysterious or chaotic it might be sometimes! Also, thank you. I really enjoyed my time in your home. Among my better moments in Seattle was spent there with Beth. Om Namah Shivaya!

  3. my dearest dear, mysore romances are filled with life lessons, heartache, and growth. The world is such a funny and small place, where we are always reminded of those moments and times. I feel ya on the "flinching" and hope that your current trip is smooth. You're an incredible soul and spirit and will no doubt make a huge impact on everyone around you, so embrace it! My friend Kirsty will be there in November--you two would love each other. <3