I recently had a brief exchange with a friend about this adage:
Paths cross for a reason.
Or…maybe it went…
Some paths are meant to cross.
His assertion was that he’d crossed a few paths that didn’t teach him anything and didn’t bring him anything but a few patches of momentary joy that were outmatched by prolonged pain. And I mean…I get that. Same. I think all humans have crossed a path or two we could have done without crossing.
But I told him that, in my experience, some paths DO just seem MEANT to cross. And some of them keep on crossing. I didn’t go into details with him, because I didn’t want to tell him a big ol’ story and I don’t think he wanted to get into a lengthy philosophical discussion at the moment, but I am going to write about this here, because I’m thinking about it and I feel like maybe I sort of owe you guys a writing piece.
I’ve written before about meeting my best friend in person at Disneyland, and how magical it was (is). I’ve written about how amazingly connected I feel to her, when it’s rare for me to feel a real connection with another person. I mean, I feel connection often, to be honest, but I rarely get a TWO WAY, reciprocal connection. I normally get attached to people and they just kind of edit me out of their lives when I no longer serve whatever purpose they needed me for. My path doesn’t merge with theirs; it only crosses. It happens so often (and hurts so much), that when I form a close association with a person, J actually asks me to check myself. ‘Jen? Think about what happens when they leave…’
Me, being the eternal optimist, I always tell him, ‘They won’t leave. This is different <than the other 20 times he’s seen this same pattern happen>.’
The last ‘in-person’ close association I made, I actually told the woman J asked me this when I became close with a person, and she personally assured me that wasn’t something I had to worry about…that she’d never leave. ‘You’re stuck with me,’ she laughed. But, she was temporary.
When I began talking with A regularly (after she did a hugely brave thing for a socially anxious person like me, and reached out to me after reading something I wrote), I was very excited to tell J about her. That I’d made a new friend. I felt two way connection. I was getting attached. And a weird thing happened…
J did NOT say, ‘Think about what happens when she leaves.’
He’s never said that about A. Not at the very beginning and not after 3 years of almost daily contact with her. I think it’s because our paths merged. They didn’t just cross. It’s similar to how my path merged with J’s. How my path merged with D’s back in school all those years ago. And when A and I were talking about meeting up at Disneyland for the first time two years ago, another weird thing happened…
J took The Boy and I to Disneyland when The Boy was 5, long before I’d ever spoken with A or known she existed. And while we were there, some kid put a piece of dry ice inside a water bottle and threw it in the trash. For those of you who have never seen Mythbusters or internet videos of people doing goofy shit with science, what happens when you put dry ice inside of a water bottle is that it explodes and sounds like a gunshot. So ToonTown was closed for a while to make sure there wasn’t a safety threat. That was the one dark spot on a nearly perfect trip at the time.
So A and I were chatting…5 years later…about meeting up at Disney and we were discussing where to meet and I said I didn’t know my way around like she did, because I’d only been to Disneyland one other time in my life, and I told her about that kid putting the dry ice in the water bottle and closing ToonTown.
*A was there that same day.*
That inconvenient, mildly scary thing that happened that day we were there when The Boy was 5, made that particular day memorable, because it was so weird, and A said, ‘I was there that day too!’ A has been at Disneyland…a place that’s over 2000 miles away from our home…every time I’ve been there. Even when we didn’t know each other. Now, when I look back on that first trip to Disneyland, I don’t only see The Boy when he was a Little Fella (which I love), and how everything except just that one thing seemed to go right on that trip…The Boy’s first on an airplane…all of our first times at Disneyland…my first time in California…but I also think that A was there. That maybe I could sense that somehow and that’s another reason why I loved that trip. Our paths kept crossing until we met there on purpose. Twice now. And I hope we meet there again. And maybe meet other places too. And keep reaching out to each other. Because our paths are merged. At least, I hope she feels that way too.
I feel that way when I write sometimes too. Some characters, I can only manage a short story with. They are temporary. Their imaginary paths just cross mine. But sometimes…I can’t stop thinking about characters, even when I think the story is over. And our paths keep crossing. That’s why I’m working on a few sequels I never really expected to write. I guess those stories aren’t really finished.