I've been watching lots of reruns of How I Met your Mother, mostly because my friends from college recommended it (I mean, Marshall is the TV incarnation of my friend Greg), and because it's in syndication (7&7:30 every night on mytv). It's a silly show, but there’s a terribly romantic overarching theme: everything in Ted’s life had to be just so in order for him to meet the woman that would become his wife; the whole show is based on a meet cute the audience simply hasn’t seen yet.
In a strange way, this concept gives me a lot of (wait for it…) hope, and trust in whatever larger powers there are that everything (in terms of jobs, relationships, etc) will work out how it’s supposed to, and that perhaps I’ll look back in fifteen or twenty years and be able to pinpoint the exact moment where my fate aligned.
This all sounds awfully metaphysical, doesn’t it? Let me put it in some plain, real terms for everyone. My parents met on the street in Boston in 1983. What you say? ON THE STREET? Yes sir, and I mean it. That was the exact moment in which the rest of their lives, the houses they’ve owned, the children they’ve raised, the happiness they’ve had, was all poised to happen. What things had to go right for that encounter to happen? A million. Like, so many.
Dad graduated from college in 1977. That fall he went on to grad school in Washington D.C., which he hated. He stayed for a year and a half working at a rent-a-car agency. His apartment had cockroaches. He wanted to tell his landlord that if the apartment didn’t get fumigated, he wasn’t going to pay rent, but had no idea whether or not that was his legal right as a tenant. Having had enough, and never wanting to feel ignorant in the ways of the law again, Dad enrolled in law school, and moved back to Massachusetts to live with his (wait for it…) parents.
Mom, meanwhile was an RA at her college in New Hampshire, going to Dartmouth on weekends and tanning outside her dorm on spring afternoons. She graduated in the spring of 83 and took the first job she was offered: an office assistant at a company that ran the Bar Exam in Boston, the very same place where my dad was studying for his Bar Exam.
Now you say, “STEPH YOU LIED! You said they met on the street!” But I’ll quote Ted Mosby: Story’s not over. They only ever exchanged niceties.
Dad passed the bar exam and moved on, beginning his law career. Mom changed jobs. Six months passed.
Then one day, Dad was on his way to court. He saw a blonde girl walking along the opposite sidewalk, thought she looked familiar. Pretty. Beautiful. He crossed the street. He said hello. She looked so great, he asked her out for lunch.
She said no. BAM! Her boss wouldn’t let her off for lunch. He took her phone number, said maybe he’d call in a few months, things were crazy at work.
Yeah, sure, she thought.
But he called.
And she said yes.
And then they got married and had four kids.
But think about it. What if my dad had stuck it out in Washington? Or if he’d decided to go to law school a year earlier, or right after college? What if my mom had gone home to Syracuse instead of taking a crappy job just so she could live in Boston? What if she’d called in sick to work? What if he’d been running late, or taken a different route to the courthouse? Think about it guys. You never know what dead-end job or crappy apartment or miserable class will lead you to the rest of your life.