Serendipity: noun The phenomenon of finding valuable things not sought for. A fortunate happenstance.
Fate: noun Predetermined course of events over which one has no control.
It all started at Camp Beenadewin.
That summer, while my sister and I were at camp in Vermont, our family moved from Connecticut to Florida. I would be starting high school at a new school, in a new home, in a new city. On the last day of camp, everyone scurried about collecting addresses so that we could stay in touch with the girls we had bonded with over the eight weeks time. (Obviously this was WAY before email was even a concept.) I had memorized my new Florida address and passing it along to my new BFFs.
One girl, Janet, upon seeing my address, casually mentioned that she knew someone who she thought lived in that very same city in Florida. Janet was from Virginia and knew a girl from her class who had moved to Florida a few years earlier…. Many degrees of separation… Oh how nice. Janet gave me Ellie’s name, although we were both quite sure I would never run across this girl. What were the chances in a city with a population of over 200,000? If it evan was the same city. Plus, I would be going to a tiny, all girls, Catholic high school rather than one of the half-dozen giant, public high schools at which my odds of coming across this needle in a haystack would be slightly better.
Well, I bet you know where this story is going…. On my very first day of school, in my very first class, sitting – I am not kidding you – RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME (!!!!!!) was the very same Ellie.
We couldn’t have been more different – I was super shy, she was (and is) a fabulously fun, outgoing, life-of-the-party kind of gal. But fortunately something clicked between us. And we have been dear friends for over 40 years.
Ellie and her husband, Archie, came to visit recently and we, as always, reminisced about Janet (with whom neither of us stayed in touch….) and pondered whether our meeting way back then was fate or serendipity.
Probably my encounter with Janet would be considered serendipitous because lots of unlikely, unrelated actions had to converge for us to meet and exchange the vital piece of information, Ellie’s identity. And maybe it was serendipity that landed us in the same home room class (also thanks to a tiny freshman class population). But, if fate is a predetermined course of events over which one has no control, then our friendship must have been fated to be. Because I could not imagine my life with out the joy and radiance that Ellie’s friendship brings.
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