Yesterday was the birthday of the mother of a friend of mine. If that seems random and inelegant, let me also mention that this is the first of her mom's birthdays that she is living through without her. And that she misses her terribly.
She told me a great story about how she and her mom had an inside joke about chili peppers. And as it turns out, we're in the middle of chili pepper season, and someone brought in his haul yesterday. So when she came in to work, on this day of missing her mom, there they were. I thought of them as a little smile, waiting for her.
The conversation stirred up my own such memories, which were, let's face it, just below the surface and ready to be stirred.
About five years ago I went on an interview at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a place I'd always wanted to work, to work with someone I've always wanted to work with. It was sort of a dream for me. But things were complicated with me and Jeffrey at that time. He had made it pretty clear that if I went, I was going by myself. And at that time, I was OK with that. So I guess they weren't that complicated, really.
So early one morning I went to the airport on my way to Minnesota. I struck up a conversation with a woman as we were waiting for the plane. She'd come here on vacation, the first trip she'd ever taken out of her little town -- the town where I was born. Now, this is a town that has never seen the sweet side of 20,000 residents. And the way things are trending, it never will. I'd never met anyone who'd even heard of it in my life. So, you know, pretty weird.
And then I got to the paper. And for some reason, a little essay I'd written about a page I'd done was hanging up there. It was in an in-house newsletter that somehow ended up there. Again, pretty weird.
And then I got to the hotel. And in my room, which was otherwise pretty modern, there was a little wall-mounted bottle opener, like the kind you see at old gas stations next to a big cooler of glass soda bottles. So its existence there was a bit odd, given that the hotel was not offering me any glass soda bottles. But the odder thing was that it had my mom's last name on it, in a little all-cap arc, as the manufacturer.
Pretty crazy, right? Here's what's crazier: I didn't take the job. Well, the truth is that they didn't offer me the job I'd gone out to interview for, because I didn't have enough experience. Of course, I totally understand that now, because I have more experience. But at the time my ego was hurt. They did offer me a different job, over a series of phone calls and negotiations, but I stayed here.
I haven't thought about those little signs in years, and I honestly don't know what to think of them. They were a series of very improbable coincidences that happened to come within one weekend. But I made a choice, and Jeffrey and I made another go of it. And you know the rest.
I have no idea what would have happened if I had gone with the signs and gone out to Minneapolis. But I'm sitting here, waiting for our son to make an appearance. And I think it must be that you just make your own way in life.