My wife and I have an ongoing debate about destiny. She says it exists, I say it doesn't. This really isn't all that much of a debate as much as it is two opposing statements. Still, If I am to make an argument, here's mine against the idea that people are "meant" for one another.
It's a bunch of crap!
There are billions of people in the world and the idea that your "soul-mate" or the ONLY person you are destined to be with is a ludicrous one, dreamt up by little girls who long to believe in Cinderella, Prince Charming, unicorns and pretty pink ponies. The fact is being with someone is a matter of choice. You choose to be with someone, you choose to get to know them and you choose to put up with their particular brand of issues. Because let's face it, everyone has issues. We are all brought up in different households, in different places, at different times, and as a result, we all carry different kinds of baggage. The key is to find someone whose baggage doesn't annoy you that much. That being said, there are more than likely many people who you will find attractive and who, probably won't bug the hell out of you. It's simply a matter of whether or not you choose to be with them. No glass slippers, sweeping off-of-the-feet to ride away on magical unicorns necessary. The end.
That is to say, except for that one time…
And that one time pretty much serves as the foundation of my marriage. In the whole scheme of things, this exception may serve as a tiny pin-prick in my otherwise rock solid logic. Either that or a huge gaping hole serving to contradict everything I've just said. It all depends on how you look at it.
Anyone who knows me well, knows the story of how my wife and I came together. In its broadest form our story sounds extremely romantic and sweet. We met in the sixth grade, attended the same high school and college and finally were married several years after graduation. However a closer examination of the details of our relationship reveal it to be the saga of a young hero who finally triumphs over obstinacy and indifference.
The story begins with a young twelve year old, girl transferring to a new grade school. Upon her arrival, the sixth grade boys buzzed about the cute newcomer. As fate would have it, square dancing was on the agenda in gym class. When it came time for the boys to ask the girls to dance, one brave, young man (that would be me), summoned the courage to cross the immense chasm, spanning the boys side of the gym to the girls side, in order to ask the cute new girl to dance (this would be my future wife). To this incredible display of fortitude, she would respond by turning him down.
After several years of being in the same classes, having the same teachers, and generally, growing more familiar with one another, our hero would once more muster his redoubtable spirit in order to ask the girl to the junior prom. This despite the fact that the rejection seven years prior still rang in his ears. The repudiation this time though wasn't nearly as flat as the previous one. Instead it was termed a bit more apologetically "Oh, I'm sorry, I already have a date. I do wish you had asked me earlier" However for the purpose of this story we shall characterize this further spurning as "flat".
Merciless, would be another way one could describe it.
Ruthless and inhumane would be two more words that spring to mind.
Two years later in college, they grew a bit closer. He would help her type her term papers and even give her rides on his amazing, golden Honda™ Scooter. On one particular evening our hero visited her dorm room professing his true feelings for her by presenting her with a single red rose. "Thank you." She said politely. Her eyes narrowing a bit before asking, "What does this mean?" "What do you mean, what does this mean? It's a rose.", He said. "Yes, I can see that.", She said, "But I want to know what this means to you." This she said, with a particular emphasis on the "you." The heroes' mouth immediately went dry. He was on his back on her dorm room floor. She sat on the bottom bunk of her bed and he tilted his head back, looking at her upside down. …Ermmm…uhmmmm… what do you mean?", he asked again, swallowing hard in a vain attempt to stall. "I want to know what this rose means to you.", She said unblinking. "Well…It means…I like you." he said this in a voice that was barely audible. His mouth and throat were so dry, that he nearly choked on the words. She smiled softly and said, "I thought so. I appreciate it very much…but I must tell you, I don't feel the same way. That's not to say that someday I won't but at this particular point I don't and I don't want to lead you astray. I'm sorry." Our hero stammered that he understood but bid a hasty retreat. Suffice it to say that the amazing, golden scooter ride back to his dorm room was long and tortuous. In fact, it might be safe to conjecture that, he felt like a complete and utter, dumb-ass.
That is if one were in a conjecturing kind of mood.
Some months later though, the indifference to our hero/me, would shortly turn to an active disdain after witnessing how poorly I treated a subsequent girlfriend. It was then that she decided she had indeed made the right decision, since any relationship with me would have ended tragically with a quick karate chop to the throat.
Several years, many relationships, a graduation and the turning over of many leaves passed and we happened to come into contact with one another at a party. However the "me" that she now saw was not the old "me", but the new "me". The one that was a bit more settled and comfortable in his own skin. And most importantly, the new "me", didn't take himself quite so seriously. Flirting ensued and was followed by dating, engagement, marriage and finally children. And so here we are ten years into marriage, and at five o-clock nearly every morning, I wake her up by saying, "Remember when you hated me? Now you love me! Ha! I win!"
And so this would be a story that could be left up to your interpretation. If you're a girl who likes to wear frilly bows in your hair with pink taffeta dresses, it was fate and destiny, with rainbows blah, blah, blah. However, if you're like me, it is a coming of age story where the unlikely hero, triumphs over insurmountable odds and the girl finally comes to her senses, realizing that a handsome and charming young man has been in her midst, nearly her entire life. (I urge you to come to the latter conclusion as well.)
That is except for this part of the story, and this may be where the small pin-prick/giant gaping hole enters. That insignificant, niddling part would simply be this:
I knew it.
That is not to say, I knew it in an, "I told you so" sort of way, but in a knowing sort of way. As in one knows that one plus one equals two, in a matter-of-facty, sort of way. Also it's not to imply that I knew it the entire stretch of our relationship. In fact my knowing, lasted about three seconds before completely vanishing.
In the summer of our sophomore year our school offered day trips for students to tour several, different colleges. Early one morning I found myself sitting on a yellow bus, in the school parking lot cradling my head in my hand. Peering out of the window. I watched as students arrived, taking their seats. I remember watching Tricia's mother walking her to the bus and waving goodbye. Tricia walked down the aisle, and said hello to me as she would any other day. That's when it happened. As I watched her walk past me everything literally, seemed to slow down and for a few seconds, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that one day this girl passing me down the narrow aisle would be my wife and we would have children.
Just as quickly as it came though, it was gone.
Now I must explain that the feeling I had was clearer and more profound than I'm able to articulate. The only word I'm able to use to describe it is "knowing", but even that seems to fall vastly short of what I experienced. It was as if a hole opened in the fabric of time and space and for a brief moment, I glimpsed the future. But it wasn't merely a vision, it was something that I knew with all certainty. And in the time it took for her to pass me by, the feeling was gone. Immediately afterward, I remember thinking to myself "What the hell was that?!" It wasn't until after we were married that I reiterated the incident to my wife. She simply replied by nodding her head, as if to say, "Yes. Of course. That's what happened." She neither questioned nor doubted the veracity of what I was saying.
Now one can debate whether my actions after that were informed by that small incident on the bus. But such questions would tend to disregard her role. For most of the time I knew Tricia we were little more than close acquaintances. And I must say, she had me convinced that we would remain nothing more. At some point, I was fine with that. Still I couldn't deny the whole, bus-time-and-space-incident.
So here's what I can say about the whole "fate thing". I can neither confirm nor deny that people are "meant" for one another. Maybe we are, maybe we aren't and we choose to act on it or we don't. Once acted upon, we then choose to make it work or we don't.
On the other hand, I choose not to believe in fairy tales, princesses, happily-ever-afters, pink ponies or flying monkeys. (mainly because flying monkeys scare the bejeezus out of me.) And other than that whole, bus-space-time-continuum-thing, I'm pretty firm in my belief that the idea that people are destined for one another is sheer idiocy.
At least I'm pretty sure...