I Believe In Magic

I believe in magic.

Last weekend I had brunch with a couple from Chicago, whom I had never met before. We had no mutual connections, and knew nothing about each other, and the meeting was arranged by pure chance: I had won a writing contest that this guy created. When he picked my monologue as the winner, he asked, “Do you live in Chicago? I’d love to have a cup of coffee with you,” and I had to say that no, sorry, I did not live in Chicago or anywhere near Chicago, and was in fact in Seattle. I was sad, because I would have loved to have that cup of coffee. And I meant it, because I really would have loved to meet this guy, who created a contest and paid writers to talk about homelessness, a subject that is near and dear to my heart. So when he responded and said that in fact, he and his girlfriend would be in Seattle in a few weeks, and their travel dates happened to fall at a time right between my trips when I was in town and had no plans, I was quick to arrange a meeting and intent on following up on it. Because… magic. The Universe spends a whole lot of time and energy lining this shit up for us in magical ways and it’s rude to not show up and say yes when it does.

In this case, I’d been following the magic for a while. A couple of months before, shortly after returning from my Just Say Hello Tour, a trip around the United States to meet those who were homeless and share their stories online, a friend had seen the contest shared to a page and tagged me in it. Jen—This has your name all over it. Do it. I read the info.

Write a 1-2 minute monologue about homelessness to be performed on the streets of Chicago to raise money for a person experiencing homelessness. Should be something that connects people and isn’t divisive.

I could see why she tagged me in it, but the fear voices immediately rushed in. “You don’t write monologues,” and “You can’t seriously do this,” and “You’ll never win,” and “Where the hell is the good chocolate you bought last week?” My fear voices are forever craving chocolate.


And yet… just as immediate as the fear voices was this deep down recognition that rushed in, the knowing… MAGIC. Because here’s the thing: I had started practicing to write this piece before I even knew about the contest. In the month before I saw this, I’d started randomly writing poetry again. For the first time since I was an angsty teenager, all the sudden there was poetry flowing out of me that didn’t even seem to ask for my permission to be made… It kind of just made itself. It was weird. Even odder was that I had started reading both poems and written pieces in my head, and was noticing things like cadence and timing, framing them (not even fully consciously) as performance pieces, even though I was FOR SURE never going to be performing anything. I don’t perform. I don’t write things to be performed, either. So, that was weird. I didn’t really understand why I was doing it but whatever… I didn’t question it too much.

When I saw this contest, I knew. Goddamnit. The Universe was sending me a thing and lining it all up in just such a way that I would have had to put my hands over my eyes and stumble around like an idiot pretending to be blind in order to block it out and not see it. I was supposed to do this.

But… I didn’t want to do the thing. Things like this are scary. I ignored it for a solid couple of weeks before mentioning it to a friend, who immediately understood what was going on, because she’s a fantastic friend who knows me much too well. I was trying to be a chicken shit, and she was having none of it (which is of course why I mentioned it to her to begin with, I’m sure). She promptly put three reminders in her calendar and started bugging me to cut the bullshit and show up, for the magic. It was time to write the piece.

And I did. And what came out took my breath away. It was easy. It flowed. It was stunningly beautiful. I nearly made myself cry with my own genius. I sent it to three friends to see if I was crazy, and they all assured me that I was decidedly not crazy, and it was awesome. So I held my breath, and I submitted it. And then I got an email a few weeks later… saying that I won first place. MAGIC.

So, you see, I was pretty sure all of this was meant to be. As I walked into this restaurant, to meet these strangers, I had no qualms about whether this was going to be awkward or weird, because I knew better. Life had lined up something beautiful, and I was getting smarter by the minute. I was going to just show up and say yes, and let it all happen. Clearly, whatever this connection was, it was divinely orchestrated, and therefore I expected it to be good.

This is the part where I kind of want to shake things up and tell you that it was horrible and painful and I clearly read all those signs wrong and breakfast with complete strangers is not something the Universe ever conspires to send you, but I have written some variation of this five times now and am finding that I can’t even write it with a straight face, which is stupid but true. No, you guys. It was amazing. Of course. It was the start of what I expect to be a long-time friendship and likely a working relationship that could lead to completely unknown but amazing projects either of us have yet to even form in our brains.

Finding allies who are working on addressing homelessness in unique ways is always a gift, but one that wants to address things artistically? Extra special. I consider this connection to be a gift from the angels, delivered right into my life when I had no idea what to do with this tour I did, and the stories I recorded, and the feelings I had that while I for sure didn’t want to keep driving around the country, I wasn’t done with this topic and didn’t know what could possibly be next. I still don’t totally know why he’s being put in my life. I think I have some ideas of what’s next: more monologues. I like them, a lot. I think they are a good way to connect people and an interesting way to tell stories. What happens after that? No clue.

What I do know, for sure: I believe in magic. Magic is real. The Universe really does send signs. We just have to slow down enough to notice them, shut up the fear voices, and show up and say yes.

Jennifer Underwood

About the Author

Jennifer Underwood

Jennifer is a coach, a counselor, and an entrepreneur, who lives in Seattle with her daughter. To find out more, check out the About Me page.

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