None of these strange stories are an April Fools joke. In fact, the coincidences began several weeks ago.
Like many midwestern creative writing students, I went through a Raymond Carver stage. It is impossible to avoid him if you're on the fiction side of the department; and frankly, I can't really see why anyone would do a duck and weave with him.
I have found myself repeating the same Raymond Carver phrase for the past few weeks; always in different places, always applicable. "This is a small good thing." I was aware that it came from a Raymond Carver story. What I forgot was that the phrase came from a short story about parents who lose their eight-year-old son right before his birthday and the words are spoken by the baker who was making their son's cake for the party. At midnight, when they show up in his store for a confrontation, he sits them down at a table and gives them hot rolls and says, "Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this."
Most people relate to the parents in the story. They are certainly the focus of the story. But I have always been drawn to the childless baker. What is his story? Why does he mention that he doesn't have children? The mother assumes that he must have children as she orders the cake. And yet, it is the point he brings up during the confrontation. "I don't have any children myself, so I can only imagine what you must be feeling. All I can say to you now is that I'm sorry." In a story so sparse, so concise, so quiet, those words must mean something.
I guess the point of all of this is not to moon over Raymond Carver's writing, but to point out these strange coincidences. I found myself using this phrase many times over the last few weeks; in comments, in a story I'm writing, to the twins. Why am I using this phrase--I truly didn't even remember the plotline of the story until today when I noticed myself writing it in a comment again. And then remembered the story.
And it is a baker, someone who bakes, an act that is enmeshed in who I am that Josh put it on my business card. Isn't that a strange coincidence that infertility and loss comes up in a story featuring a baker and that I glommed onto this phrase that features in the story without even thinking about the plotline?
Not sold yet?
A few weeks ago, my friend posted an Anais Nin quote as his Facebook status. "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." I noted it and moved on. That day at lunch, the ChickieNob saw me holding Tertia's book and asked what the front page looked like. I said, "I don't know. Maybe I skipped it. Or it's a dedication." Except that it wasn't the dedication. Before the dedication, there is a page with a single Anais Nin quote. That quote. What are the chances that this completely unrelated male musician would choose the same quote as this female writer is South Africa?
A friend told me that she wanted to take a vacation but didn't want to be far from home in case the expectant mother she was matched with went into labour. I was excited because I had read about a town an hour away from her in a magazine and I ran upstairs to get the article. I wrote her a long email, trying to sell her on this town, listing the restaurants in the article as well as all the related day trips you could take in the area. A minute later she wrote me back. In a world of cities, in a state that I barely know, in a magazine that I rarely read, I managed to choose the random city where the expectant mother lives.
I was thinking about yurts after talking to Josh about yurts (he had pointed out that my dream house cannot be a traditional yurt due to my fear of crickets and their tent-like nature. So fine, I would like a non-traditional yurt with a good seal against cricket intruders) and then my friend told me how she wants to build her dream house and sent a picture. Like this. A yurt.
And then...that night, I drive to a new friend's house. I once lived close to her neighbourhood though I barely remember the names of the streets anymore. I haven't been down there in seven years. I park the car about a block away, fearful that I won't find parking closer, and begin to walk with the twins towards her house. And then we are standing there. In front of the house I always wanted to own. She lives next door to the house we always wanted to own. When we lived nearby, Josh and I used to drive here and sit outside this house and stare at it. We were doing treatments and we spoke about the school system as if we were going to be successful.
Finally, returning to the first person who kicked off the coincidences, he posted that at 8:30 p.m., he would be "sitting on my roof watching SF turn off its lights. then I'll get out my guitar and some paper." I read this update at 5:30 his time. Which was 8:30 my time. Though it was originally posted at 11:43 a.m. I had just had a strong feeling at 8:30 that I should see his Facebook status. And that is what it was.
And just as he opened the coincidences, they came to an end. I haven't seen another one since last Saturday when I read that update.
It feels like these coincidences are too strange, they stick out too far to be ignored. So what do two quotes, a town, two houses, and a status update have in common? Or, Raymond Carver, Anais Nin, an old friend in California (twice!), a new friend in South Africa, a dear friend who is on the cusp, a town that I may never visit, a type of house that I hope to own, a friend who shares my heart and exchanges stones with me, and my dream house. Next door to a new friend. How does it all come together?
Your thoughts? Honestly, do you see any connection? I can answer any questions to give more information except for information about the dear friend on the cusp who is finding herself in an impossible vacation.
Your own strange coincidences that you've noticed?