Gaping at Life

You know what I love to think about? (and I seem to think about it a lot, actually…) Those moments where our lives drastically change and yet we have no idea of it at the time.

I’ve got one particular moment in mind that I ponder over and over: it was the night that I first met “the guys.” Way back in freshman year, when I was new to college and still actively making friends, I went to salsa dancing one Friday night with a girl from my orientation group. It was lots of fun, even though I couldn’t (and still can’t) dance at all. There were also a couple of boys there who I recognized as my next-door neighbors. We’d never talked before – I’d just seen them come and go. When it was “free dancing” time at the end of the lesson, Davis and I happened to choose each other as dance partners. I don’t remember it much, to be honest… it’s just funny to be sitting here, over three years later, reflecting on it.

But that’s not really the night I was referring to, originally. The one I’m talking about happened exactly one week later. Hoping to run into them again and invite them over for peanut butter brownies and seven-layer bars at my apartment, I ventured to salsa dancing again and was extremely disappointed when I didn’t see them there. That week’s lesson was even less memorable… all I knew was that I was bummed not to see them and had two dishes’ full of sweets sitting back at home, which I presumed that I was going to eat alone.

But upon getting back to my apartment, I decided (with the encouragement of Orientation Friend) to knock on their door anyway, see if they were home, and still invite them over. And when I did… that’s where the night really started. They were enthusiastic – they’d love to get to know me and eat my delicious baked goods, they said. I brought the food inside their apartment – everyone was settled in there already – and we began chatting. I remember talking to Jonathan’s parents (who had come up for the weekend) about my aspirations as a roller coaster engineer and confusing Nathan with James (and vice versa – they looked really similar, initially!). I also remember that the night was really short – I went back home kind of early and was happy to have met them, but sad that it was over so quickly. Until Jonathan, who had just walked his parents to their car and wished them goodnight, strolled by my window again. We started talking through it, then Nathan joined him, and I invited them inside. I propped my door open and we all sat down in my living room. Davis wandered in shortly afterward. I remember he was barefoot and in his gym shorts. He sat down in one of our couch-chairs and put his feet up on another chair from the kitchen. From there we talked the night away, until our advisors asked us to close the door (we were being too noisy, I guess) and we realized how late it was getting.

This event seems completely unsubstantial from an outsider’s perspective. But I can’t help but look at how drastically all of our lives changed that night. Those guys would soon become some of my best friends at school. I’d spend hours upon hours in their apartment, playing Guitar Hero with them, making dinner together, just hanging out. They’d invite me to Steak Night and I’d bring the dessert. We’d go hiking together, do homework together, go on adventures together. My future husband was one of them, the one that quite literally wandered into my apartment. I remember chuckling when he came in, along with everyone else. He seemed sleepy and kind of disoriented – mostly just confused, I think, at where his roommates had gone. But later that year, I’d fall in love with him. He would have more of an impact on my life than almost anyone else.

And at that moment, I had no idea.

There are other moments like this too. In that night, for instance, I think back to Jonathan’s parents. They too had no idea that the girl they just met would accidentally introduce their son to his future girlfriend. Or there was another night in which a couple girls and I were in a friend of a friend’s apartment and her roommate walked in, carrying her band uniform. I saw her for a fleeting second, but I remember it well. That girl would become one of my best friends at school, and I would become pretty connected to the school band too through her and other friends. And yet again, I didn’t have a clue about any of it.

I love how life does this. And it also makes me wonder what’s happening now that I’ll look back on in the future and marvel over, just as I’m doing now.

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