Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Here, There, or Anywhere

Why are we here?   Or there? Or not here?

Among the many highlights of the trip to Philadelphia to mix with sport fans was Saturday afternoon's rendezvous with my nephew.  He lives in a neighboring New Jersey suburb and met his dad and me in what is called Old City.

Matthew has been, since he was old enough to be anything other than a tot, a mature, responsible, and delightful individual.  If you can be mature at 3, he was mature. And a joy.  Still is thirty plus years later.  And he now has a delightful 3 year old of  his own.

So, we met him for lunch and basketball watching in Philadelphia.   And as I looked over the restaurant table and saw this smiling intelligent young man's face,  I thought about how we got to this place, and how remarkably coincidental it was--and then by extension how coincidences--absolute serendipity-- explain why we are here, there, or anywhere.

Matt was sitting at this table in 2013 in Philadelphia as my nephew, because I went to summer school in Albany in 1970 and took a course called African American literature. If in 1967 I had not dropped American History in my freshmen year and therefore had to take an additional course in a summer, Matthew is not sitting across from me. 

During the first class in African American Literature in Albany's 1970 summer school, we were told that we had an assignment to read a play for the second class, the next day. I got on a long line to buy the play "Dutchman" at the bookstore, and happened to be wearing a peculiar hat with a feather that I'd found at a sidewalk sale.   The person who was directly in front of me on the bookstore line was a young woman, a stranger.  She turned around and commented on my hat.  We talked while waiting for the books on the long line. After our purchases we agreed to meet the following day after our classes. We did. We started dating and continued throughout the summer. She had a younger sister. I a younger brother. We introduced them and double dated. We broke up. They got married and had Matthew.  Matthew grew up.

Matthew is sitting in front of me in Philadelphia in 2013 discussing how Albany could have beaten Duke because I wore a peculiar hat in 1970 and coincidentally got on the line at about the same time as did his aunt.   If I waited thirty minutes to get on that line in 1970, Matthew is not across the table from me in 2013.

If you think about why you are where you are this moment, it is probably because of somethings very similar. That is why we are here, there, or anywhere.

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