I went to a party last night—another going-away party—for my friend Heather. Yep, I’m losing yet another friend to that greedy state of California. In January, it was my sister Hannah. Last week it was Caroline. Next month it will be my friend Bibba. She’s going to San Francisco.
I moved around a lot—as a kid with my family, in my high school summers, and during college. When I returned home from France after college, I promised myself I’d lay my nomadic shoes to bed for a while, if not forever. I felt a strong urge to be still. To nest and to build my home someplace. I neglected to acknowledge the fact that others might feel differently—that others would move away, move in and out of my life like a pendulum just as I had moved in and out of the lives of so many others in my wanderings.
There’s an upside to this. For every person who swings out of my life, some other great person swings in. My boy Colin, for instance. And there are a small number of people who swing to and fro, exiting and re-entering your life in different and unexpected moments.
A writing professor of mine used the illustration of a straight line (that’s your life path) that’s intersected at various points by a curving line. The curving line represents the people in your life who are inevitably tugged back onto your own path by some invisible and unforeseen magnetic pull.
One day a couple of years ago, I was walking in the North End of Boston with my sister Em, her fiancé, and his family. We had just eaten lunch at Neptune Osyters and were looking for a good place to buy cannollis. I looked up and literally ran into my ex-boyfriend from college. The last time I had seen or spoken to him was about a year earlier when we had both happened to be in Paris as the same time. That meeting was premeditated, but the circumstances that brought us to the same city at the same time were certainly not.
I’m inclined to believe that my professor had something in his vector paradigm. We often use that phrase “it’s a small world!” to explain unexplainable circumstances such as the one I just described. But isn’t it more than mere circumstance? Is there some magnetic force within each of us that keeps us connected to certain others? I find comfort in that concept.
But what of the others? Those who we never see again? Or those we miss by bad timing? We’re not on the same path, clearly. But who decides that? Is it a greater force than us? Or is it governed by our own actions and choices? Oh, the eternal fate versus free-will theory. We may never know.
Still, I’m looking forward to the time when some of these gals swing back into my life. Until then, there are new friends to meet!