Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On relationships ...

I've long been fascinated by the manner in which people enter -- and leave -- my life. Some come into my world and stay for years; others show up for a few months, or mere days. All who have come, regardless of their stay, have affected me. Taught me how to be better. Teachers, editors, next-door neighbors and two-blocks-over neighbors, coworkers, students, the Bunco babes. A retail clerk.

Serendipity, I believe, has placed a significant role. Consider the seventy-three year old neighbor I wouldn't have met had the mail not been misdelivered one,two,three,four times. After the fourth doorbell ring -- "Here's your mail ... again," I told her, smiling sheepishly -- she invited me in. Poured me a cup of coffee. Her big gray cat circled around my ankles. I noticed a voluminous dictionary stationed on a pedestal table in her eat-in kitchen. "Ah, a word person you are, huh?" I asked, smiling sheepishly. Instant recognition! She saw the same in me. Out came a Scrabble game. We played two games that afternoon. I lost badly. A weekly game ensued. Lots of coffee. Lots of laughter. For several years Pat and I played the weekly game. Her health dwindled. Cancer. She died a few years back. I miss her lots.

About a week ago I struck up conversation with a young lady at a nearby home improvement store. She was ringing up my paint, and shortly after the usual chitchat ended she divulged that she'd lost her mother at the age of 17. "She hadn't told me she was sick," the girl told me. "It was just the two of us. She suddenly died. I found out later she had cancer ... ." I told her about my dad. We looked at each other with an intensity that made my want to reach out to her, to invite her out to lunch. I asked her how old she was. "Twenty two." The same age as my oldest daughter. No wonder I felt so maternal. Amazingly, I bumped into her -- her name is Heather -- Saturday night at a coffee shop twenty miles away from my house. It was my first time in the shop, a sort of urban hangout I normally wouldn't patronize. I'd gone there to watch my daughter compete in an improv show. I felt seriously out of place. The tiny shop catered primarily to artistic types wearing sleeve tattoos and bandannas.

"You're the person at Lowe's, aren't you?" Heather asked, immediately recognizing me. She smiled widely. I could smell her perfume. "I'm going to be at Panera at two o'clock tomorrow, if you want to join me."

I already had plans. No problem, though. I am certain that Providence will align our schedules soon.


Bee said...

I like the concept of serendipity because it manages to combine coincidence (too random) with destiny . . . and possibility?

I love the Scrabble friendship: How that must have enriched both of your lives!

Kate said...

One of my fave activities, rain or shine, is sitting down to the Scrabble board, a cup of coffee in one hand, score pen in the other.
I miss my game buddy enormously. She was wonderful competition!

Kate said...

More importantly, Pat was a quirky, lovable, energetic, Class Act lady.
She also had approximately ten to twelve cats roaming around her expansive house, which only added to her charm ;)

Bee said...

I wish that we could play Scrabble together -- because I love it, too.

I used to live in Trinidad, about 10 years ago, and a group of friends would get together for Scrabble parties. The decadent expat life!

Kate said...

What's up with your traveling history? I'm so jealous! I only get to go to Omaha, Nebraska!