Saturday, March 21, 2020

Listen to the Universe, Dudes!

Ayoub Harrouchi and Mark Cullen
Note the Little Mermaid over Harrouchi's shoulder.
A year ago today I had one of the most memorable travel experiences of my life. 

I was in Denmark on my way to Aarhus and the World Cross Country Championships. At the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, I ran into a kind man from Morocco, Ayoub Harrouchi. We took each other's photos at the mermaid, chatted for a while, and then went our separate ways. 

I was kicking myself for not having exchanged contact info with this nice and thoughtful man. 

Hours later, as I was about to cross a street, I looked over my right shoulder - and there he was at the window of a coffee shop bar! I went inside and we talked for a long time. We also met for coffee the next day before he departed, and yes, this time we exchanged contact info. 

Utterly remarkable that our paths crossed a second time within hours in a city of over 2 million. 

Ayoub and I have exchanged notes a few times since, and I had especially looked forward to a reunion this May during the Diamond League track and field meeting in Rabat, but for obvious reasons I won't be making that trip this year. The world is a very different place than it was a year ago, and in ways I could not have imagined. 

Nonetheless, this experience in Copenhagen gives me hope. The universe stated rather clearly, "Dudes (yes, the universe says "dudes!"), you were supposed to stay in touch!" 

Miraculously, it gave us a second chance. 

Happy Friendship Anniversary to my kind friend, Ayoub, in Morocco.

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