It’s been about 25 years since I and my brother flew on an airplane by ourselves for the first time. We took the hop to Orlando and stayed with my Aunt Chris and uncle for a few days, headed for Sea World and Disney World. That was a long time ago. Am I seriously old enough to tell stories about things that happened 25 years ago? And I can go back that far to trace appreciation for the best thing I have going in my life?
The thing I remember the most was our last day at Disney World. We were there until late in the afternoon. South Florida is prone to sudden thunderstorms and our day there was no different – about 4:00 PM the skies opened up and it dumped for 45 minutes. Our reaction was my Uncle David’s idea, though: we stopped into a gift shop and bought $2 ponchos, then sat in an ice cream shop and had sundaes for a little while. When we walked out, just about everyone else in the park had called it a day and gone home. The four of us had the place to ourselves. We rode Space Mountain ten or 15 times in a row, delayed ride to ride only by the time that it took to race giggling from the finish back to the beginning.
My brother and I, together with our aunt and uncle, had hit the sweet spot. It was one of those very rare times when you get a MAJOR amusement park to yourself because everyone else is either tired or unfortunate or misguided. We went on that damned ride again and again and again – my aunt is a saint for putting up with it. Not least of all, because every SINGLE time we rode it, I kept screaming, “Indiana Jones, eat your heart out!” Only being a father myself gives me an idea imagine how obnoxious that must have gotten.
Skip forward 20 years to a time when it amused me to look at the singles ads on Craigslist. They were just an entertaining diversion (honestly). I used to smirk at the posts people put up. It seemed like everyone had far too high an opinion of themselves – the cacaphony of over-inflated hopes and egos were fascinating – and the ads gave very little information while demanding an exacting list of criteria for potential partners. Were I to participate in such a blind cattle call, I might start with the following completely impossible criteria:
You are someone who challenges me to be more;
You are brilliant, accomplished, ambitious and professional;
You are interesting;
You are kind;
You are funny;
You are fun;
You are generous with your friends and tough against any enemies;
You cook well and appreciate being cooked for;
You appreciate a good massage;
You have fascinating blue eyes;
You are athletic and share my dedication to sports;
You are well-read;
You are dedicated to the written word;
You have an appreciation for music of all kinds;
You are artistic;
You have eclectic friends;
You are competent at getting all the daily things done and
You are unholy, ungodly, unbelievably, tempt-me-toward-EVIL sexy.
- Oh, and please make sure to respond with a picture proving that you’re utterly gorgeous.
A ridiculous checklist, right? And forget finding that person in your own town, or finding someone that fits that bill with whom you actually have history, so you can pick up like old times. Hopes are thin that she exists in the first place.
Except, she exists. The lesson of Space Mountain came home last Fall, when she showed up: timing is everything. In times past, I’ve discounted the concept of “soulmates” as far-fetched, because I thought anyone giving it real thought would recognize that there are probably a series of people in the world that you could settle down with and share a future. The truth is, I don’t think that anymore – just settling with people is settling for people. There actually was and is one person that I’ve met that makes me more complete than I imagined I could be. And in my happy case, the timing worked. She had ended a relationship just before my bad one was ending; we re-established contact after ten years of silence; sparks flew.
We went to college together and lost touch after graduation. Both of us grew and experienced and learned life’s tough lessons for a while, but then ended up across a table on a patio in Dupont sipping margaritas and catching up on everything that had gone on in the interim. In the happy months since, I haven’t stopped laughing, admiring her intelligence and drive, being humbled by her generosity. Even when she is willful – she usually races me to doors of buildings or cars so that I can’t open them for her, and she’s a ready source of instruction on everything from cooking to folding laundry to engineering the most efficient route through intersections – she’s usually right, and always entertaining. She’s an optimistic woman who is happy in her own skin and a terrific partner in everything I want to do.
How do you measure luck? There aren’t any metrics for that, so I’m left to decide what it means: I figure it’s a question of what we each think we’re entitled to, versus what life grants us. In my case, I know I’m a good guy that will try to make sure that this woman (who goes so far beyond the bullet points above) is as happy as it is within my power to help her be, but that doesn’t stop the entire situation from stunning me that 1) she’s real, and 2) the timing worked out. This once it seems I was the right person, in the right place, at the right time. I’m never going to ask Karma for anything again.