Although I hadn’t heard from him in a while, I was glad he thought to call when he did. Allen and his wife were on their way to Atlanta.
“Let’s go to dinner. At a place that has the Atlanta game on TV,” he said. Judging by the playful urgency in his voice, I wasn’t surprised that he wanted me to meet him at Kickback Jacks, a sports-bar restaurant.
Crowded and noisy, it was a place I’d always avoided. But I also knew that Allen didn’t have time to wait in line for a table. That’s why I agreed to meet there; I knew we’d probably leave to find a quieter place.
And we did. Three minutes later, we parked at Ruby Tuesday, a cozy place where there were as many waitresses as there were busy tables.
After we were seated, one of them approached me. “Aren’t you Mr. Koplen?”
When I nodded, she reminded me she had been one of my students. “I loved your class,” she said. “It wasn’t boring like the others. You made it interesting.”
I thanked her and asked whether she was still going to school. “Soon,” she said, “I’ll go back and take more classes.” Then she said goodbye to attend to one of her tables. Ours wasn’t one of them.
Sitting next to me and across from Allen and his wife, was a fellow alum of Allen’s from UVA. Just before they’d started talking sports at the Kickbacks’ parking lot, he’d handed Allen a folded sheet of paper, just after being introduced to me.
I watched as Allen unfolded it. It was a flyer that advertised my book, No Gold Stars! Was that more than a coincidence? I didn’t know, and there was no one to ask. Still, it was too unusual not to consider for a while.
But I didn’t have long for that. Allen asked whether I remembered meeting one of his classmates at a UVA football game I’d attended a few years ago with Allen and his wife.
“He sat in front of us,” Allen said. “He was a publisher. And I asked him to contact you about your book.” He watched me shake my head. I remembered, but the publisher’s call never came.
“I’m sorry about that,” Allen said. “I found out that he doesn’t publish your kind of book.”
I wasn’t disappointed; people who are known to be publishers get bombarded by everyone who writes or who knows a writer.
“He’s retired,” Allen continued. “But he told me his biggest selling book was written by Robert Monroe…”
“Far Journeys,” I interrupted. “I met Bob Monroe. In fact, I went to one of his weeklong seminars.”
It was his turn to be surprised. And my turn to reflect on a conversation I’d had a week earlier in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In a very real sense, Allen and I ventured in different directions for a few minutes. He turned to his cell phone to get crucial details about the Washington-Atlanta baseball game. Since he lived near D.C., he was dismayed that Washington was losing before a rain delay stopped the game.
While he discussed that, I reflected on the fact that, of all the books in the world, Allen had mentioned Bob Monroe’s, the same one I’d heard about while talking with a hypnotherapist named Roman at a jewelry store in Santa Fe.
“I give that book to everyone,” Roman had said. That’s when I told him I’d met Bob Monroe.
What I didn’t tell him was about the out-of-body experience I’d had at the weeklong seminar at the Monroe Institute. Learning how to leave one’s body was what the seminar was all about.
At the Institute, we met in the cafeteria prior to our “sessions.” Those took place in our bedroom. As we lay by ourselves in our canopied bed, Bob Monroe would play special tapes he’d created to facilitate our extraordinary meditations. Following his directions, we would go deeper and deeper into a trance-like state. Our bodies and our spirits would seem weightless and unbound to each other.
Whether my eyes were open, I don’t recall. All that I knew was I saw a face, glowing and smiling, hovering above my bed. I watched for a short while without being alarmed because I recognized the face. It was that of an attractive woman about my age who I’d seen earlier in the cafeteria.
When our session ended, we returned to the cafeteria. There, we talked about our experiences during our meditation. I was reluctant to mention mine because I thought my imagination had been playing tricks.
That’s why I sat in silence as others spoke.
During a pause in the comments, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and saw the women who I had ‘seen’…the same one who had hovered over my bed.
“I came to visit you. Did you see me?” she asked.
“Rain delay is over!” Allen announced.
I snapped back to our conversation at the table. No one seemed to notice how far my mind had wandered…