Call it fate, destiny, synchronicity, or astounding cosmic coincidence, but I have to report a series of highly unlikely events, a whole collection of chance occurrences that, multiplied together, defy reason and point ineluctably to some kind of universal force. These events are spread out over decades, and millions, even billions, of alternatives could have generated a completely different conclusion.
The data are overwhelming.
|1957||I’m born; precisely 6 months later, Mary Gjerness born in same hospital.|
|1958||Mary and I reside in same small town, although unaware of each other.|
|1964||Mary and I attend same elementary school; no contact.|
|1965||First contact: Mary and I are in same third grade class. Protective shell of cooties and girl’s germs around Mary inhibits interaction.|
|1966||Mary increases inhibition by being consistently smarter than me. Except in spelling. I rule in spelling; I think there must be some fundamental association between spelling ability and intelligence.|
|1970||Junior high years: I enter puberty. At the same time, Mary’s cooties and girl’s germs dissipate.|
|1971||Mary continues to get better grades than me; I begin my slide into inarticulate nerdiness.|
|1972||You know, this Gjerness girl is looking pretty hot.|
|1973||My family moves into a house that is precisely on Mary’s route to and from school. I step out of the house in the morning, there she is; I walk home in the afternoon, our paths cross.|
|1974||I somehow manage to ask Mary out on a real date. It was an embarrassing disaster.|
|1975||Bad news: Mary goes to Thailand as a foreign exchange student for a year, I start college in Indiana. I blame the date.|
|1976||At the same time, Mary and I both move back to the Seattle area. Tempting the fates, I ask her out on a second date. And a third. And a fourth, etc.|
|1979||I begin graduate work in biology and move away to the University of Oregon.|
|1980||Entirely by coincidence, Mary is accepted to the graduate program in psychology at…the University of Oregon! We decide to celebrate by getting married on 16 March.|
|1983||Strangely enough, we both have our first child, a boy named Alaric, at the same time. Mary actually does most of the work.|
|1987||Yet another kid, Connlann. Yet again, she does most of the work.|
|1988||I move to Utah, and in a remarkable example of synchronicity, Mary also decides to move to Utah. I can’t understand why.|
|1990||A daughter, Skatje, appears—although Mary once again does the physical work, I am responsible for contributing half the genetic information. That effort tires me out, and we decide three is enough.|
|1993||I get a job in Philadelphia, and what do you know, Mary and the kids come along! It’s utterly incomprehensible. Philadelphia?|
|2000||Time for a new job, and I move to Minnesota. This may be beyond belief, but it’s true: Mary also moves to Minnesota.|
|2006||It’s amazing…she’s still here! And she’s still hot!|
I don’t know how else to account for this wildly improbable series of events other than to assume there has to be some external guidance shaping our destinies. Human beings simply don’t stick to each other over so many years and so many thousands of miles without some kind of magic, right?