33: All in the Timing

33: All in the Timing

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

All in the Timing

The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate.

~O. Henry

“It’s small but airy up here. Take your key. You can start moving your things in whenever you’re ready.”

With that, I handed the lady my deposit money, took a deep breath, and slipped the key into my pocket. Finally, after six years of living in a noisy, crowded, impersonal city near Boston, I was getting out. The New Hampshire seacoast offered the space, beauty, and quiet I was more accustomed to, having grown up on a small New England farm. In fact, this place looked like a big old farmhouse, and the elderly landlady who lived downstairs was as friendly, chatty, and outgoing as most folks back in the city were not. While by no stretch oceanfront property, the house was only minutes away from the water by car or bike.

This move would be a better fit, and what was there to stop me? I was living alone, between jobs, with no romantic ties to hold me. I could almost smell the crisp ocean breeze and feel the soft sand between my toes.

Back in the city, I started sorting through my things, deciding what to pack and what to toss. I collected cardboard boxes and crates from the supermarket and filled them with the things that add up to thirty years of living: books, letters, pictures, photo albums, favorite shoes, and such. I was a model of efficiency, driven by my single-minded purpose.

And then something peculiar happened. One morning, I woke up to the sight of all those packed boxes, and a sinking feeling came over me. I was getting cold feet, but I couldn’t figure out why. I ascribed it to the usual last-minute doubts and fear of the unknown — normal feelings that can easily be put to rest. But instead, those feelings kept growing into a mass of qualms and misgivings. They were telling me not to move, but I couldn’t understand what was happening. Finally, those powerful feelings forced me to drive back to the house in New Hampshire.

I knocked on the front door, and the little lady greeted me with a big, welcoming smile. I pulled out the key and told her I couldn’t take the apartment. She looked puzzled but shrugged and said it was all right. She even returned my deposit — the same envelope of cash I had handed her two weeks earlier. She wished me well. I gave her a hug. Then I reluctantly headed back to the city without a clue as to what had torpedoed my big plan.

Back in my apartment, I stacked my neatly packed boxes in an out-of-the-way corner. I was in a strange place — following my instincts without any idea why. It was back to life as usual, only now minus the prospect of getting out of the city. I tried not to think about it — what was done was done. I kept busy and found pleasure in small things: the sparrows gathering on my porch rail; the Angora cat secretly eying them from below; the sounds of laughter from the neighbor’s young children playing outside. These were small consolation, but helped to make my sudden change of plans more bearable.

The month passed uneventfully, and then I was unexpectedly offered a six-week temporary position editing a small weekly newspaper in town. I accepted the job and dug into the work, and the seacoast apartment began to recede in my thoughts.

Then, one day I heard the click-clack of heels in the hallway outside my office. Was someone stomping around in cowboy boots? The imagined boots turned out to be the leather-heeled shoes of someone working in layout. That someone was a bearded young man, about my own age, with a rather serious demeanor. He chose to wait until my last day on the job before speaking to me. With almost no preliminary small talk, he invited me out for coffee. Being unattached and with nothing to lose, I nonchalantly accepted.

We spent the evening at an atmospheric coffeehouse in Harvard Square, talking for hours as if we had always known each other. By the time we left, I had the feeling we would be friends forever. He claims he knew we were going to marry. Before long, both of these things came to be.

At last, the unexplainable reason for my not moving away was revealed. Fate or some other mysterious power had meant for us to meet. I was just supposed to wait a few weeks longer. It was clearly all in the timing.

We were married a few months later and moved outside the city, closer to the seacoast. We have spent countless hours enjoying the stunning natural beauty of the majestic New England coastline. His love of this area has only grown over the years, even exceeding my own. That old house I almost moved into has since been replaced by an imposing brick mansion. Still, whenever we drive by the place, I am reminded of how close I came to missing out on what fate had in store for me. I give my husband’s hand a squeeze, ever grateful for the way it all turned out.

~Lisa Loosigian

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