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I Almost Missed It

I thought she was a blonde. (She’s a redhead.)

The night of the party, I should have been in India digging wells, teaching English, and making a difference. But there was unrest in the region. Just two days earlier, the State Department had canceled our visas.

And so, instead of winging my way over the North Pole, I was on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. At a bacchanal.

A two-room apartment jammed with young, attractive, horny people. One of my bosses was there. I was trying to impress him. I was also trying to impress a leggy cutie who was wearing -- this was the seventies -- pink hot pants. Hot pants!

An older woman arrived. (She was twenty-six.) Katheryn was on the arm of a thuggish brute who I later found out was her ex-boyfriend.

At some point during the evening I found myself standing next to the piano. Katheryn was there as well. In the low light of the party, I thought she was a blonde. (She’s a redhead.)

We talked for less than five minutes. Probably about India. Maybe about our mutual friend, the host; I honestly don’t remember.

What I do remember is what happened next.

The party wasn’t even beginning to wind down, but Katheryn and her ex-boyfriend were leaving.

Suddenly she was standing in front of me. She leaned in, confidentially, and pressed a slip of paper into my hand.

“Call me,” she said.

Here are all the ways it shouldn’t have happened.

I should have been in India.

She was at the party with her ex-boyfriend.

I was chasing another girl.

She was five years older than I was.

Our conversation was forgettable.

I didn’t even remember the color of her hair.

But thirty-three years, six houses, and two grown children later, Katheryn and I are still together.

What I learned from this is this:

Life is random.

There’s nothing you can do to plan for the coincidences and contingencies which will come your way; and they’re likely to be more important than whatever else you think is important at the time.

As John Lennon wrote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

As George Lucas wrote: “Trust the force.”

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