Think about all the little things that got you to where you are now.
Think about every opportunity that seemed to fall into your lap. Think about all the things that could’ve gone differently. If you had arrived just a second later, or earlier. If you had talked with person A over person B. Think about how incredibly low the odds are that you would ever be where you are now.
Once upon a time, Facebook was a brand new tool for college students to make friends and meet up. I know that sounds as sketchy as finding a date off of Myspace, but, back in 2005, that is what you did. You posted everything from where you were living on campus to your class schedule, and you found people who were in the same dorm as you, who were taking the same classes as you…shit, you’d friend people because they joined the same groups as you (this was back when groups were exclusive to their respective colleges). It was a way to find your footing in a completely new and overwhelming environment.
Just before move-in, I got a friend request from a guy named Rob. He messaged me, noting that we were going to be living on the same floor in the same building. I was a little confused, as I didn’t think floors were co-ed, but I was down with it.
Again, think about all the little things that got you to any particular point in your life. Because Rob and I didn’t actually live on the same floor together. We lived in the same dorm hall, but in different towers. We became friends because of this bit of confusion.
But what awesome friends we became. He introduced me to a girl — Erica — who lived on the floor below him. My entire freshman year was defined by my friendship with these two people. Granted, it was also defined by a self-absorbed frat boy and a slew of dating slip-ups that I’ll get into later, but, for the most part, when I look back on my freshman year, I think about our dynamic friendship.
Rob had a love for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and it didn’t take long before he introduced us to the midnight showings. We’d trek out to Harvard Square every Saturday night and scream obscenities at the screen and had an absolute amazing time.
Think about all the things that needed to fall into place for you to be where you are now. Think about all the rejections necessary to get you there. Think about all the paths your life could’ve gone if just one little thing had gone differently.
Let’s go back to September, now. I met a certain someone on the very first day of move-in my freshman year. A shy kid that we will call Daniel. For me, it was love at first sight. For him, it was something to do between rushing for a fraternity and playing with the idea of getting back with his ex-girlfriend. It was unhealthy and one-sided and it wasn’t until sometime in January, when he showed up to a lunch date with (poorly hidden) hickeys on his neck that I realized I needed to stop it.
And so I did. I ignored his drunken phone calls. I eschewed any more lunch or dinner dates. I started dating other people.
That alone became a comedy of errors. I met one guy who couldn’t decided if he wanted to marry me on the spot or hook up with me casually. I dated another who lied about where he lived and wanted me to commute an hour out from Boston every night and weekend to see him. I had another boy lie to me, this time about going to med school in an effort to get me to hang out with him. And not just any med school: John Hopkins, one of the best in the country. When I caught him in his own lie, he lost his mind and never talked to me again. I started hooking up with an absurdly pretty guy who was across-the-board fabulous. My gaydar lit up like a Christmas tree around him, but, hey, a hook-up was a hook-up and I wasn’t going to turn down someone that good looking. It’s really saying something that fooling around with a potentially gay man was the least unhealthy of my dating interactions.
I then proceeded to get stood up an astounding 5 times by 3 separate boys. If you’re doing the math, that means two of those buggers rescheduled, only to not show up again. The last of these 5 happened on Valentine’s Day. I waited in the lobby of my dorm, sending texts to a certain boy, angry as all hell that he was giving me the runaround. I eventually gave up, when back to my room, and had a good cry. I decided then and there that I was truly, truly done. I had a GPA to maintain (lest I lose my scholarship) and I was focusing way too much on boys. I had had my fill of them and was a-okay with waiting until graduation to start dating again.
Cut to September again, this time across the Charles River. It’s the first day of fall classes at MIT and a scrappy-looking boy is entering his senior year for the second time. He was originally scheduled to graduate in ’03, but MIT prides itself on kicking ass in a pretty ruthless way. He went on leave during his first senior year and returned home to recoup. He came back, got back into the swing of things, and was gearing to graduate that June.
The weekend after Valentine’s Day, Erica’s sister came to town. Our Rocky Horror trips were getting a little more sporadic, but we decided to introduce Erica’s sister to it. That Saturday, we did our once-usual routine: we went to a college hockey game, we went out for dinner, and we went to Rocky Horror.
That same night, one of MIT boy’s college friends was performing her very first role in Rocky Horror. His entire group of friends – including the boy – went to cheer her on.
My group of friends almost filled up the row that night, leaving one seat empty between me and the wall. The boy’s group of friends filled up the row behind me, with one person leftover.
The MIT kid, who had been the first to enter the row, declared, “Well, looks like it’s time to make a new friend.” He then jumped over a row of seats, landed in the seat beside me, and said, “Hi, would you like to be my new friend?” I smiled and kept to myself.
One of the Rocky Horror crew came out, informing us that they were having technical difficulties with the sound. This gave the MIT kid a little extra time to talk to me. My resolve was still unshakable: the last thing I wanted to do was get involved with another boy who would hook up with his ex behind my back, or another boy who would leave me hanging on Valentine’s Day. But there was something about him that hooked me in. And the more we talked, the more I wanted to get to know him.
I can’t stress enough: think about all the little things. Think about how one little change in events could’ve transformed everything.
If Daniel had been even a little bit nicer to me. If Commuter Boy was a little less needy. If I didn’t get stood up on Valentine’s Day and instead had a wonderful date with my future boyfriend. If Rob had realized that there were two towers to the dorm halls and never friended me on Facebook. If Erica’s sister decided to wait a week before coming to Boston. If my husband had graduated on time. If his college friend had started Rocky Horror a week earlier. If we had invited one more person, or if one person from my husband’s group hadn’t made it.
Sometimes you can’t help but feel like life will pull out all the stops to make certain things happen. We let the old lady go in front of us in line and, because of that extra time, we miss a horrible car accident on our way back home. We look for a job on whim, only to find the perfect position for us. We go out with someone who is totally wrong for us, and break up just in time to meet the Right One.
And sometimes you go out with a chick in Season 4, break up, meet her on the subway in Season 8, find out about the girl’s roommate’s band, hire the band for your friend’s wedding, and end up falling madly in love with the roommate, who you then marry and have kids with — kids that you will tell an extraordinarily long conversation with about how you met their mother (spoiler alert).
It’s hard for me to believe that it was almost 8 years ago that I met my husband in a little theatre in Harvard Square. The theatre has long-since closed down, with the Rocky Horror ensemble moving to downtown Boston. Two graduations, five separate apartments, a slew of various pets, and a house in the country later, and we’re still together. It might all be chance. It might all be preordained. But still — look at what has made you, you. And realize how much of it is thanks to chance. And how absurdly unlikely it was that you would be exactly where you are today.