I don't know if it's because I'm working on a memoir or if it's because I've reached the age of looking back over my life. I read a book by Amy Tan (Opposite of Fate) lately, too, and that has been coloring my thoughts and perceptions. But, whatever the reason, I've been experiencing things from another dimension lately.
The memoir started it. I was recalling and writing about my days as an English major and honors student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison when I unexpectedly got a Facebook notice from Peter Hawkins, my classmate in the Honors English seminar. To add to the coincidence, his notice was quoting Ann Lamott, whose book Travelling Mercies I had just finished reading. Peter was one of the best students in our seminar and a truly decent person. He had attended Wheaton College--another link, because I grew up in Wheaton and even took violin lessons on its campus. He went on to teach at Yale. I hadn't heard from him in years, and even then it was perfunctory. So I was startled when I saw his Facebook post exactly at the same time as I was writing about our mutual experience.
That was a pleasant coincidence, I told my writing partner Luanna, who also graduated from UW Madison.
A few days later, I was writing about examples of racial prejudice I observed back in the sixties in the small southern town where I came to teach college English. I was revising, to say that one of the people involved turned out to be a friend to the black college in the town many years later. Guess who suddenly mentioned me in Facebook! He wrote to say he thought I had been a good professor, adding that his friend had said he enjoyed my class. Well, guess who the friend was—he once was co-owner of the store where the racial incident I was talking about had taken place. The store is long gone.
To get a notice in Facebook from Peter was a coincidence. Was this another? Or had the one townsperson I had told about my memoir started warning people? That person had told me recently that people in town still remembered how I’d tried to submit a letter to the editor of the local paper on the subject of this very incident. Maybe I was getting paranoid.
I’m now engaged in a slow motion coincidence (or paranormal event) in the form of my recent involvement in presidential politics. I’ve been working on a novel for years that’s been going nowhere. Last spring, I took a creative writing continuing education class, and the teacher asked us to write something quickly where there was chaos and something completely unrelated was added to the mix. I took the confusion of the character in my novel and randomly (I thought) got her engaged as a writer in a political campaign that created new avenues for her life. After that, just for the experience, I did a few things for a local campaign in Georgia during the primaries. Well, guess what. About a month ago, I was invited via social media to join a grassroots campaign for a candidate (not Trump!); then I was asked to be the manager of a group related to the campaign; then I was asked to manage certain aspects (grassroots) in Georgia; and now, tonight, I’ve been asked to manage the grassroots writers group, temporarily, at least. I strongly support the candidate (Evan McMullin), but I’m also thinking, “When this is over, I can finish my novel!” And I'm marveling a bit at the fact that my creative writing class idea is actually coming to life.
Now I am lost in thought about a vision I have had.
I’ve been writing my memoir, I just finished reading Amy Tan, and I am looking back over my seventy years of life.
My granddaughter, who is not quite three, is the oldest grandchild, like me. She has blonde hair and blue eyes like me, although her hair is curly, and she also has Jewish, Irish, and African genes, which I don’t. She is an independent person, like me.
My vision is that in her person, I will live a whole new life. Who is to say that is not possible?