In my teenage years I, like many others at that age (I imagine), spent a not-insignificant portion of my time thinking about fate. There were comparatively few momentous events in my life; I didn’t have to pull the rope for very long to find what seemed like the beginning, or a beginning. One of my college application essays was about the ability of a traffic light to change one’s destiny. I am not ashamed to admit that Sliding Doors was and still might be one of my favorite movies.
Now, at thirty, I’ve lived enough – and have learned enough family history – that the rope goes back to before I was even born, is sufficiently long so as to feel infinite. When I try to pull on it my brain shuts down. There have been a lot of traffic lights along the way, too many to count.
Nine days ago, I picked up the rest of my stuff from my old apartment. I didn’t have much left there. With the exception of some books that I will go back for later, it all fit into the trunk and half the rear seat of my new used car. One thing I carried out with me, and will continue to carry, is a memory of what my roommate said to me on a hungover morning last fall. She’d just started dating after getting out of a serious relationship, and was regretting an angry text she’d sent the night before to a guy who was taking his time to ask her out. When I asked her how she was finding single life, she said, “The more people I meet, the less certain I am about love.”
The more I’ve lived, the less certain I am that I was meant for any one life. I can see myself in many trajectories, and no one is necessarily better than another, just … different. When I was younger I felt more enchanted by the notion of fate because, I think, I was less aware of the possibilities of what a life could look like. Even the big decisions I made were non-decisions: Of course I was going to move to New York! Of course I was going to work in advertising! Of course I would leave and start a company! It felt like I had no other choice, not that this is a bad thing. But there definitely appeared to be an ideal path to follow, that this – whatever “this” was at the time – was what I was meant to do. Maybe when we collect so much evidence for something, eventually we end up refuting we’re trying to prove.
Sometimes when I’m writing with no outcome in mind I can feel story shifting significantly as I write. Lately I’ve felt like I can sense the potentiality of even a small decision on my future life. I could do this thing and it will turn into something I remember forever. I could get in the car and drive there and my life goes in a totally new direction. I can say these words and the ending will be completely different. How do you proceed when you feel so deeply that merely going to the post office can change everything? And I could choose not to do any of these things and it would change my life just as equally. Maybe that’s the difference between seventeen and thirty, I don’t know.
What I do know is this: it’s Sunday, June 15, 2014. My last freelance obligation for a while ends this week. I have a car parked outside containing everything I own. I have no debt, no obligations, and I am thinking about fate (or non-fate) again. What’s going to happen next?