Do you ever feel like you can trace almost everything in your life back to one defining moment, or one set of circumstances? Sometimes I look around at the amazing people in my life and the happiness I feel in general, and I start getting philosophical about how it all came to be. For example, I think about the people I know and how I wouldn’t know those people, if I hadn’t known other people, who I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t known still other people, all because of one night when I met certain people… but wait. I digress. Maybe it’s easier to tell this story forwards rather than backwards.
I can trace everything in my life right now to a time in early 2005 when my roommate at the time told me she was moving out and I decided to look for a new apartment, with new people, instead of staying where I was and finding a replacement. I posted an ad on craigslist looking for people to apartment hunt with and a girl answered my ad who knew another girl and the three of us decided to look together. The day before we were going to look, we responded to various ads on craigslist and in particular, one realtor wrote back to me saying that he had places he could show me and that I should call him the next day.
That next day, the three of us set out to see places but nothing was quite right. I had forgotten about the realtor who said to call. Finally, in frustration, at the end of the day, one of the girls suggested we should just find a realty office, go in, and see if they could help us. One in particular popped into my head as I had walked by it a dozen times. We approached the door but found it locked. A man was sitting at a desk and took pity on us. It was fifteen minutes after they had closed but he let us in anyway and asked us what we were looking for. Over the course of the conversation, we told him our names and when I said my name was Katie, he asked “Katie (my last name here) by any chance?” I was freaked out… how did this guy know my name? It turns out he was the very same realtor who I had corresponded with who had said to call him who I never ended up calling. Of all the realty offices in all of Boston, we had to walk into his. It was a bizarre and unnerving experience, but a good one, since he assured us he could help.
The next day we went out with him to see apartments and he showed us two that stood out. One was a place that I particularly liked because it was quirky with one of the bedrooms having a round wall and it was spacious and the bathroom even contained a bidet. Nevermind the impracticalities of a round walled bedroom, I was smitten. The second place that stood out was a nice place in a good area with new hardwood floors and lots of light (can you tell I’ve been spending my days writing about vacation rental properties?)
Unfortunately, the two girls I had been looking with bailed on me. They were both grad students and couldn’t afford to move out, they said. One was living with a boyfriend who things weren’t working out with, but she had decided she wasn’t ready to give up on the relationship or the living situation. I was frustrated to say the least, but I still wanted the quirky, round-walled, bidet-containing apartment.
I posted another ad this time announcing that I had a great place and I just needed great roommates. I actually believe the word I used was “fabulous” – remember when everyone was saying fabulous all the time a few years back? I got a response from someone who had been drawn in by the use of the word “fabulous” and we made plans to meet for coffee and hopefully see the apartment. The day we were to meet up, I got an email from the realtor saying the quirky place had been rented. I was disappointed but the girl still wanted to meet me and we talked for quite a while over coffee and decided to look for a new place together.
The day we went out to look at places, we saw nothing worth our time. One that sticks out in my mind was a tiny place with walls painted what can only be described as the same blue as Superman’s suit. The realtor admitted to us, “it needs some work.” We were discouraged but I remembered the second place the original realtor had shown us. The one with the nice hardwood floors. I told her it was a long shot and I doubted it was still available. Still, we contacted the realtor, the place was, in fact, available, and had everything we were looking for, including off street parking. We pretty much signed on right there on the spot, even knowing that we would need to find a third person. That girl I originally met on craigslist thanks to my fortuitous placement of the word “fabulous” became my roommate and remains my roommate to this day.
We posted an ad for a third roommate and got a few responses but the first person we met was a delightful girl from Switzerland who we loved instantly. Luckily she felt the same and we all signed the lease and moved on in. This is the apartment I live in now, although the third roommate has changed several times since, and that’s the first part of the story which at the time, seemed uncanny enough.
It turns out the Swiss roommate was a knitter. She would sit in the living room with piles of yarn next to her and within days, sometimes hours, have beautiful things to show for it. I was intrigued, but didn’t think knitting was for me. I didn’t think I would like working with yarn and it had never been a hobby I envisioned for myself. Thankfully, she had other ideas. She and her wonderful friend (who has since become a wonderful friend of mine) taught me to knit one night in November of 2005 and I took to it like a fish to water. I loved it and felt like I had previously had a large knitting shaped hole in my life, only I hadn’t even realized it.
Right around that time, I met two girls who also had just learned to knit, and we decided to frequent our local Stitch and Bitch group. For the uninitiated, a Stitch and Bitch is just what it sounds like. It’s a group who gets together regularly and does just that – knitting (and crocheting) and talking. The two girls I originally went with stopped going regularly but I was hooked. I kept going and made a wonderful group of really good friends. With some additions and changes over the years, that group of friends still meets on a weekly basis to this day and we remain close knit – heh heh, sorry. Thus ends part two of my story.
Part three starts with one night at Stitch and Bitch when a guy on the street happened into the store we were sitting in. I guess he didn’t so much happen in as be beckoned in by some of the girls who saw him out the window and decided he looked like someone we should talk to. He told us all about how he was a comedian involved in a local improv theater and that he was going to be in a show starting soon and we should go. One of the knitters piped up and asked if he knew her roommate. Not only did he know her, they were in the very same show together which pretty much sealed the deal for us deciding to go and see it. This was early summer of 2008.
Cut to, we went to the show a few times and were invited to the cast party at the end of the summer. It was there that I met a comedian who remains a friend to this day through whom I met another friend who introduced me to another friend who introduced me to many more friends who have ended up being very important to me. When you factor in those people, plus all my beloved knitters, plus the act of knitting itself which I can honestly say has changed my life, plus where I live, plus everything else I’ve gained along the way from all the people I’ve interacted with, you get a picture of how much has been affected by the small choices I made along the way.
But there’s the catch. I might tell you how sad and empty my life would be if I hadn’t been at the right place at the right time which I wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t learned to knit which I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t found that roommate and this apartment and that set of circumstances. But who can say? There are infinite possibilities with every choice we make, right?
Take the movie Sliding Doors as an example. In the movie Gwyneth Paltrow has something small happen. She catches a train. Or she doesn’t. And that one defining instant changes everything. We, the viewers, go on to see the two paths her life could follow based on whether she caught the train or not. Don’t worry, they changed her hair in one life path to make it easy for us to tell which story we’re following. But that’s beside the point. The point is, these tiny, miniscule choices or coincidences or divine interventions or whatever you want to call them, happen and set us on meandering paths that change us forever.
So who’s to say? Would my life be remarkably as wonderful if I had done something different? Not decided to look for a new apartment way back in 2005 for example? I have to admit that it could be. For all I know, it could be better. But I prefer to think I’m on the right path with the right people and the right things in my life and that there’s reason and meaning and even magic in the day to day choices we make.
I suppose some could argue that if it were destined for me to learn to knit, I would’ve learned anyway, through another avenue. Or I would’ve met certain people at another time in another place. But I don’t know and I guess we can never know because unlike the audience of Sliding Doors, we can’t follow the paths that branch off, we can only follow the one we’re on and hope for the best. Life is funny like that.