I met Philip Seymour Hoffman almost eight years ago. I ran into him in the East Village while looking for a very specific kind of shampoo during my first summer here in New York. Unable to find it, I was frustrated, I was hot and I had a ridiculous head of cornrows I was shamefully walking around with and eager to wash out.
As I was going to cross the street, I saw him. Too new to New York to know the proper celebrity run-in etiquette, I looked at him and without shame or filter asked, "Philip Seymour Hoffman?" Where most would have ignored me or feigned anonymity, he looked back at me calmly and, in perfect Philip Seymour Hoffman-like style simply responded, "Yeeesss." Extending the vowels and making the one syllable sound almost regal. He didn't just respond to my question, he delivered a response.
I didn't know what to say -- he had just won the Oscar for Capote and I was as star-stuck as one could be -- I just looked at him and calmly asked, "How are you, Philip Seymour Hoffman?"
"Good. How are you today?"
"Great. Just, umm, looking for some shampoo." I responded while running my fingers through my horribly cornrowed hair.
He laughed a little and then almost related to me by asking, "I'm actually looking for Mud Coffee. Do you know where it is?"
I did know and I gave him directions. He thanked me and then said, "Well, it was very nice to meet you. Have a good day."
I responded with the only words that I could find, "You too, Philip Seymour Hoffman."
We parted ways and, as I crossed the street, I immediately spotted my shampoo. It was 25 percent off. It's NEVER 25 percent off. I still use the same shampoo and never before or since have I seen it on sale. On the way home to my apartment, I ran into a boy that was a senior when I was a freshman in high school -- I'd always had a crush on him and he was in from DC for the night and we just happened to run into one another. After hanging out, he told me how cool he thought I was, how I was prettier than he'd remembered and funnier than he'd ever imagined. And, after all those years, I thought he was boring.
I felt pretty satisfied with myself that night -- great celebrity run in, discounted shampoo, crush vindication -- and as I walked up to my front door I saw $50. My luck went on, I played blackjack for my first and only time and won $600. My internship offered me a full-time job. I got a part-time apprenticeship on the weekends for a jewelry company I'd idolized. I found the East Village apartment that I'd long dreamed of having since I was a 13-year-old-girl singing my face off along to RENT in the Midwest.
Everything was falling into place with a sort of ease I'd never experienced. And it all started happening the moment I met Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was as if he was a human good luck charm.
I didn't keep the realization to myself. I told everyone I knew. And, within my group of friends, started my own New York folklore. The rule was, you couldn't just see him, you had to actually meet him in order to unlock his power. My text message queue often read more like my personal Philip Seymour Hoffman Gawker Stalker than anything else.
Some believed in it, some thought it was silly and some were able to put my theory to use. The one that did is an entrepreneur. He received funding for what turned into a multi-million dollar venture mere days after talking to Philip Seymour Hoffman.
I did everything I could to spread my own gospel, hoping that my story would find its way back PSH himself. I wanted him to know of the impact he'd had. I even created a Pinterest board, titled "Good Luck Charms," that is almost entirely populated by photos of Philip Seymour Hoffman thinking that he'd somehow stumble upon it. It was even tweeted out by BuzzFeed and referred to as one of the best uses of Pinterest they'd ever seen. Pretty lucky.
When news of his death surfaced on Sunday I received a slew of texts, calls and emails from friends that knew of my connection to him. Some made light of his passing. Others offered true words of sympathy.
The thing is, and this may sound silly, beyond just being a great celebrity run-in story, he gave me something to believe in. For almost eight years now, I've believed in him from the bottom of my heart. At a time when I felt listless and unsure of myself, he helped me believe in me.
I've long considered concepts like luck and karma as ridiculous -- something only the simple believe in as a crutch to simplify and explain the complicated -- but, to me, Philip Seymour Hoffman felt worthy of that sort of reasonless belief. He's felt lucky to me since the day I met him. And, even though I only met him once and never actually knew him, I'll miss him forever.