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What Danger Brings May 20, 2013

Posted by Alex Sawit in Stuff in General.

By Dian Yu

May 20, 2013



Left to right: Dian with newfound Cyrano friends Isay, Lanie and Alexei, hanging out near the front steps. Unseen taking this picture is Alex the Grumpy Cat.


Wikipedia says that serendipity is “the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.”  They use the word accident.  It’s so funny because on a different page Wikipedia also says that “an accident or mishap…implies a generally negative outcome which may have been avoided or prevented.”

Well, it’s funny to think of now, I mean.  But one night many weeks ago, it didn’t start out funny at all.  It felt like I had accidentally stumbled into danger in my own neighborhood.

One evening after the travel writing workshop I had signed up for was over, I walked home like I usually do, lost in my own thoughts of random things that had happened to me that day.  It was after eleven o’clock but it’s my usual 3-4 minute walk from the Greenbelt shopping area to my apartment. I process my thoughts by talking to myself, at times too out loud.  I remember hurriedly crossing the pedestrian lane, reaching the sidewalk right when the traffic light turned green.  This is all part a comfortable routine for me after almost a year of living by myself in the neighborhood, enjoying my independent city life.

Suddenly, I notice two suspicious looking men in front of me, walking ahead but constantly looking back in my direction.

On any other night when I walk home, I’m usually carefree to the point of tripping silly on the flat pavement.  But now, my presence of mind is just too clear to ignore. I watch as the men scrutinize me.  My heart starts to pound.  My instinct signals that these two men are up to no good.  For the first time in nearly a year of worry free living in the city, my mind spells out the word DANGER.  My brain plays my dad’s voice saying, “Be aware.”

Reaching for my pepper spray, I slow down to let them walk farther ahead so I can stay at a safe distance.  It doesn’t work.  Instead, one of them crosses over to the right side of the street and keeps pace with my slowed stride.  His partner continuously looks back at me while staying in my direct path.   By now we are walking alongside a dark, open air parking lot where all the lights are switched off, making it a scary place where acts could be committed in the shadows and passersby wouldn’t notice if anyone was in need of help.

It’s now flashing in my mind with urgency: DANGER.  I’m not letting them corner me.  And I will not let these men follow me to my apartment.

So my feet drag me to the first thing I see at the corner of C. Palanca Street…the quaint, usually quiet place called Cyrano.

I enter.  Still in panic, I notice two lady wine stewards standing behind the bar.  I ask for a glass of white wine from one of them and then find a tall stool at the corner of the room where I sit and start to calm down.

The place is cozy, lit by yellow dimmed lights over the shelves where wine bottles are stacked.  More bottles surround the walls.  A chalk board that says, “Le vent éteint les bougies mais allume le feu.”, catches my attention.  A group of friends is on the couches, watching TV as if they are at home.  The lady serves my order and I am happy to see that the tall glass contains a generous serving of wine.

Good.  It’s just what I need.  I’m guessing that in about twenty minutes, I can head back home.  I start sipping my wine, still feeling a little self-conscious yet strangely comfortable.

Minutes later, one of the friends casually walks by on his way to rejoining the group.  I remember Alex, the proprietor, from the few times over the past year in this neighborhood that I walked into Cyrano to buy wine for takeout but never to hang out.  Anyway, Alex nearly walks past me when he seems to notice my isolation vibe.  On the spur of the moment he abruptly pauses and after thinking about it for a second asks if I’m waiting for my friends to arrive.  Still feeling a bit shaken by my experience, I smile and say no, that I’m just by myself.

Just like that, he asks me to join the group.  I suddenly feel my spirits lighten and I accept.  With glass of wine in tow, I join the group in conversation and without hesitation start to talk about the two men I am hiding from.  I feel a rush of comfort at being able to release my fear as I talk to my new Cyrano friends Alex, Lanie and Alexei, who express their relief that I’m all right. Curiously, I’m talking to them with an uncanny feeling of togetherness.  It’s as if I have known these people for years and I start to share more stories.  I had only meant to stay a short while and the two men on the street were long gone, allowing me to safely go home.  But before I knew it, two hours had gone by talking with friends I had only just met.

That’s how it all began, by accident.

When I first checked out Cyrano last year after moving into the neighborhood, I remember thinking that it was an intriguing place with happy people enjoying live music and wine.  I remember wanting to join in the fun but felt reluctant to break into what seemed like an exclusive club.  As it turns out, it’s quite the contrary.  It only seems like a club because here everybody knows everybody.

Cyrano is now my refuge, my one sanctuary in the city where I always find myself watching new friendships develop.  It’s a welcoming environment where people can freely express themselves because everyone feels comfortable and familiar.  It’s as if the place is a magnet for people with the same vibe of friendliness, positivity, and encouragement.

Lanie says she’s glad Alex thought of asking me to join their group that night, otherwise we all might never have become such good friends.  I’m glad too.  I’m even glad that I encountered that scare all those weeks ago.  I might never have become a Cyrano friend if danger hadn’t forced me to accidentally find something good that I wasn’t searching for.


– Edited by Grumpy Cat





1. Jonathan Co - May 23, 2013

I’m glad you were able to find us Dian. Sorry about the circumstances that led to it though

Dian Yu - May 25, 2013

Thanks joco! Super happy I did too!

2. kptesoro - May 23, 2013

Glad to know you feel safe in Cyrano!

Dian Yu - May 25, 2013

Thanks! 🙂 it feels like home there!

3. Alexei Reyes - June 4, 2013

I cannot forget that totally amazing night! It was serendipity indeed. I was totally blown away when I found out that Ryanne was your brother! 🙂

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