33 years ago, my sister met another freshman at college because of random dorm assignments. Two 18 year-olds, one from NYC and another from a small town in Wisconsin, became friends and that friendship has spanned the decades.
The friend is one of eight (yes, eight) children and, long ago, our mothers bonded over the trials, tribulations and –yes — tragedies from which they could not protect their children. And the families have, by happenstance, and good fortune (for our family) literally kept bumping into each other throughout life. I think Kurt Vonnegut had a word for this phenomenon.
When I went on college interviews, there was invariably a sibling nearby to greet me and show me around. When, years later, an out of town colleague of my ex was in NYC and wanted to bring a friend along for dinner, in walked another sibling. (They are instantly recognizable.) So, into my then home walked OMIGOD [name withheld] FROM WISCONSIN!!
When POB (partner of blogger) and I set up home and family in the very Upper West Side, who should be teaching at a pre-school nearby? That same sibling.
Years later, who is dancing at my sister’s (ahem, long awaited) nuptials? That college friend.
And whom do I see when I go for a run, on my way to work or out for coffee? You bet, the sibling. Sometimes we sit and chat about life. Sometimes, I just yell a greeting. If my sister’s college friend is visiting town, I always try to pop over to my sister’s and say hi. Even if I can’t make it, I know that will — and do — bump into that college friend during her stay.
Because our two families — from different backgrounds and along different life paths — were intended to know each other.
I emailed my sister today because I, of course, saw the sibling. My sister wrote back that this coincidence is not as crazy as how I met POB.
POB and I were in the same bunk at a camp on Cape Cod in 1974. We were 10 years old and best friends. Our families both lived in the City and subsequently we went to the same synagogue and Hebrew School. She did her homework; I was in the rabbi’s office. We continued to learn with the rabbis after Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation, until we graduated from high school. We lost touch for 20 years and re-met, first casually, then as good friends, and after our own relationships imploded, as life partners.
All I remember is that POB’s mother randomly picked a camp because they were building a summer house and needed the girls to go somewhere. POB’s father was not pleased at all with the facilities at the camp. When POB’s mother was alive, I often thanked her for not consulting with her husband as that might have changed the course of history. I still remind POB’s dad that going to that camp was one of the best things that happened to his daughter (I only say that when POB is not perturbed with me).
Life is crazy like that. Which is another reason to listen to your grandmother’s warnings about not wearing torn underwear or never going out without lipstick because the doctor in the emergency room could be your first boyfriend. And, no matter what happened since then — even if you are lesbian — you want to make sure that the guy regrets letting you get away.