Friday, January 08, 2010

Welcome (back) to the future

I have this theory that someday I will be looking through a new acquaintance's old vacation photos and I'll see myself in the background of a picture. Think about it: when you're snapping pictures in a touristy area, you always capture images of lots of other people standing beside the people and things you are really trying to capture. We're all walking around with photo books full of strangers - except, my theory is, it's likely that some of those strangers we encountered in our past are actually people who will be important in our future; we just don't recognize them at the time.

I've got nothing to back this up, of course. I just believe that it happens.

It's stuff like this:

Shortly after KAL from Autism Twins won the Ice Out '08 competition on my blog, we discovered that we went to college together. We graduated from the same university the same year. We didn't know each other, but I bet we passed each other in the student union and said hello. I bet I dropped my student ID in the dining hall and she picked it up and handed it back to me. I bet we took Intro to Psych in the same massive lecture hall. And I bet the professor even mentioned autism. We were probably sitting next to each other that day. I bet there were all kinds of coincidences. We just didn't know it.

And then there's Niksmom from Maternal Instincts. We discovered about a year ago that we had a mutual Facebook friend. It seems that Pearl, a woman who is like family to me, the mother of my dear friend Kay, worked with Niksmom in the late eighties. Upon discovering the connection, Pearl produced a twenty-year-old photograph of Niksmom sitting in their living room - a living room so familiar to me that it could be my own. For all I know, I arrived at their house as that gathering was breaking up. Perhaps Niksmom and I passed in the driveway. Maybe I sat down in the chair she'd just vacated before the seat was even cold.

And now that I think about it, Kay and I are friends from college. Kay was probably KAL's lab partner in some general education science course.

I think this stuff happens. All. The. Time.

Interestingly enough, I've been thinking about this because I've been thinking about Brad Paisley and my friend Kiki.

In late August, 2007, to celebrate our mutual birthdays, my friend Kiki and I traveled two hours to a county fair to see a Brad Paisley concert. On the way, I told her the remarkable story of Bud and Dierks Bentley's hair - a story that had unfolded two weeks earlier. A few months later, Kiki and I went together to see Dierks Bentley.

Then, this past July, I was at home when my cell phone rang. It was Kiki, who was vacationing with her husband and son in Washington, D.C.

"You will never believe where I am," she said when I answered. "I'm at the Lincoln Memorial, standing twenty five feet away from Brad Paisley."

Brad was there shooting a video. Kiki and her family just happened to be walking by, and they stayed to watch. Then they were invited to join the crowd as the crew started filming some footage.

Less than two months later, I was with Kiki when I saw that Brad's video had been released online. The song was Welcome To The Future - a song that, in fact, I'd blogged about the previous month.

We pulled the video up on my laptop. It prominently featured children - including children with disabilities. Its message was one of hope, of promise, and of potential. Before it was over, I was crying - but not crying so hard that I missed the images of Kiki's family, their hands in the air, singing along with Brad Paisley.

Two weeks later, I stood backstage at the very same county fairground where Kiki and I had seen Brad two years earlier, almost to the day. I stood with Brad and Dierks and Bud, my boy whose disability had made this meeting possible - my boy, who at that very moment, was so full of hope, of promise, and of potential.

As we stood there together, the crew on stage next to us tested equipment and the opening strains of Welcome to the Future filled the air. Despite my preoccupation with keeping Bud regulated, I thought of Kiki and felt like I should somehow acknowledge the bigger picture - the coincidence, the synchronicity - this fairground on this weekend, these lives that have intersected, this child with this disability, this song and this video - this hope, this promise, this potential. But I didn't have the words. And so I let the moment pass.

But I'm thinking that Brad Paisley might want to pull out some of his old photo albums and check out the background of pictures from his childhood trips to Disneyworld and the like. Because I have a hunch that he just might see me standing there somewhere, perhaps looking distracted in line for It's A Small World.

Or maybe he'll see my friend Kiki.


Niksmom said...

I love the synchronicity of all of this. And I adore Pearl. I have often felt very connected to you even before we knew about the connection with P. No accidents.

KAL said...

I love this idea and adore how it's played itself out in your life so much, especially with your friend Kiki and Brad Paisley. So cool.

Before we knew each other, my husband and I would spend every single Sunday morning, for a year+, at the same starbucks — hunkered down at tables, maybe next to each other, with our papers and coffee. We only found out after we officially met elsewhere and started dating. How many times did he hold the door for me or move his chair so that I could pass by? How many times did I tap my foot impatiently behind him in line, this guy, the father of my eventual children?

No accidents? I've always believed that. Or maybe it's more about meeting people when we're ready to, when it's meant to be.

And I know you're right — I'm sure we took the same Intro to Psych so long ago.

Island Mom said...

Thanks for this -- I had a great and much needed cry watching Brad Paisley's video. Bless that man, I'm not much for contemporary country music, but he and Dierks have won me over.
When my son was diagnosed w/ASD, I discovered that the clients I'd been working for for years had a philanthropic foundation that was funding the research of the doctor I was desperate to get my son in to see. Truly, there are no accidents.
At the end of difficult days, I frequently check your blog postings to help quiet my mind, and remember to celebrate the daily miracles which always occur within the daily struggle. So thanks for writing more often lately, it's much appreciated.
I did improv comedy for 11 years which unknowingly prepped me (as well as that's possible anyway) for maintaining my sense of humor while single-parenting my son -- the core philosophy of improv is "there are no mistakes, only gifts". Isn't that fantastic? It's true every day.

BRJ said...

Logged on to read your blog today and read the title "Welcome (back) to the Future"... had just watched the movie "Back to the Future" with my sons this evening- does that count?! ;-) In all seriousness, these kinds of situations that you talk about happen to me all the time. It really is a small world!

Judy Jeute said...

I had stumbled upon your blog with Bud's adventure to meet DB and have been crying along with it ever since. Until today though, it was somewhat of a guilty pleasure because I have three healthy children. Doesn't that sound ridiculous? But I am so respectful of what parents of special needs children do, that I almost felt as if I were imposing or something. This was a great reminder that I came across this blog for a reason. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences and I really enjoy your writing.

pixiemama said...

It IS a very small world.

Do you know Michelle O'Neil (fullsoulahead)? She and I grew up in neighboring towns.

My husband and I met by a very small chance. Years later realized we had been at the same concert several years before. It was a great concert, even though it wasn't the day we met.

jess said...

Just yesterday I read an article in a magazine (fine - it was People, whatever) about an adopted man and his birth mother who reunited after thirty some years. It turned out that they were both actors and that they had not only passed one another at auditions without knowing it, but they'd actually shared a stage without knowing it. Upon finally meeting and figuring all of this out, the mother said something like 'well, you can't say God didn't try to get us together all these years!' I thought it was so moving.

The day that I met my husband, we both swore we'd met before. Thirteen years later, we still don't know where - but it's certainly not unlikely.

Beth Allums said...

Reminds me of a book I read you should check out "There are no coincidences - The synchronicity of our Lives"

By the way - I'm so glad you're back! I have missed you. And I wept tears of joy the whole way through the Deirks concert post.

Anonymous said...

Like Island Mom, I am not a country music fan, but me and my sons have fallen in love with Dierks thanks to you and this song is just GORGEOUS...the video is incredible! I will have to open my mind about Brad Paisley, too, I think! Thank you so much for your writing and for sharing it all with us.

xo karen

P.S. Dierks Bentley is really handsome and so is Brad Paisley! Dang those guys are cute! :-)

Jordan said...

This gave me goosebumps. I love it!

Stimey said...

Amazing. And I think there is interconnectedness around as well. And I believe that coincidence happens more often than not. I have had this sort of thing happen too. It's crazy. And cool.

Melissa said...

Love this post ... you've just inspired one of my own. :)