It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. New job and all has kept me either away from the computer, or too tired to post when I’m home to do it.
This idea has been bouncing around in my head for awhile now. I’ve been thinking about things that probably seemed like little more than chance events at the time, that had they not occurred, your life would most definitely have followed a different course. I’m sure there are some drastic, immediate, life-changing events – but I’m thinking more along the lines of smaller things that went unnoticed until later, or maybe the small thing that made the big thing possible. I don’t have time to fully develop my five things, but here they are with a brief description:
1) Edith Staats’ and Jesse Pickering: Here’s one day in 1837 that set a lot of things in motion. According to testimony, Edith and Jesse had one sexual encounter. At the time, Edith was 18 and living at home, and Jesse was married with one child and another on the way. Having previously been involved, Edith testified that Jesse had not paid Edith a call since he had been married – except for the one notable day. If not for that chance encounter, my gg grandfather would never have been born. Of course, that rules out my great grandfather, my grandfather, my father…and me. I’d say that chance encounter had a pretty direct, although unknowable at the time, effect on my life!
okay – back to more modern days for 2-5:
2) Terry Staats’ car accident: Okay, clearly this is cheating, since it is not exactly a small event when’s one’s father dies. However, only two years old at the time, I don’t remember anything about my father, so I get by on a technicality. That doesn’t change the fact that surely I would not be sitting at this computer, in this freshly refinished living room, writing about this life – had my father lived that night. I can’t tell you how. I can’t tell you if it would be better or worse. But I can tell you that there is no way my life would have ended up in the same place if not for that Halloween night in 1971. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering and haven’t come up with any answers yet, but it has made for some interesting daydreaming.
3) Applying at Waldenbooks in 1989: That’s right – applying for a part-time job at the age of 20 completely changed the course of my life. For those that don’t know, the manager who hired me there ended up also hiring me as her husband. I think I made more working at the part-time job. In fact, when I worked there, she put money into my wallet. Now she takes money out of it. Nuff said – pretty clear that asking for an application resulted in more than I planned. ALthough, and my mom will back me up on this: when I came home from applying for the job, my mom asked how it went. I said, “I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind going out with the manager.” Sickeningly sweet, isn’t it?
4) My grandparents’ trying to charge my best friend $400/ month rent: Granted, this one is a little unclear to a stranger at first glance. However, it relatively directly lead to important event #3. When I moved to FL with my friend Mike in 1989, we lived with my grandparents. Not exactly an ideal arrangement for two young men testing their newly-found adulthood. We both found part-time jobs and were saving up money to get an apartment. For whatever reason, my grandparents never liked Mike much. After about three weeks, my grandfather told Mike that he would have to pay $100/week room and board. After that conversation, Mike decided to move to Houston. Living with my grandparents and working part-time at Perkins didn’t exactly seem like the high life, so back to Ohio I went (See event #3 for how that turned out)
5) Not so much a single event as a collection of events. By rough count, we moved 12 times before I was 18, and I’ve moved about 22 times in total. Some were close, some were far, most involved me changing schools. I quickly developed the ability to make myself known and liked wherever I went. However, because I moved so much – to this day, I don’t make myself too known. There is always a part of me that keeps the world an arm-length away,like a stiff-arm, ready to avoid the tackle of any unpleasantness that comes my way. There are very few people over all those years and all those moves that have managed to evade the arm. It’s another exercise in “What would I be like if I had only ever known one house?” Maybe I was always that way and the moving helped refine the habit? Maybe I wasn’t? Either way, it seems obvious that moving affecting where you go in life is both literal and metaphorical.
Maybe not the greatest examples, but hopefully it gets you thinking about things in your own life that seemed small at the time but turned out to be huge. I know I’ll remember many, better examples when I lay down and try to go to sleep. But try I must.