FOR WEEKS THE NAME PROFESSOR SNODGRASS KEPT POPPING INTO MY HEAD
I couldn't recall where I had first heard it. Was it part of an on-going joke at some point? Was it a character in an old story that someone used to tell? I would be out walking the dog, driving Interstate 91 and the name would float though my head. I was walking the streets of New York and there it was ... Professor Snodgrass. It went on for weeks and I mean come on, let's face it, it's an unusual name, it made an impression.
I had a feeling it was linked to my first husband, Scott, in some way, so I asked his brother, Mark, who is a terrific storyteller, very funny and has a better memory than I. "That's a character in the stories our dad used to tell us whenever we were taking a car trip: Professor Snodgrass and his rival, Professor Blowfeld."
"That's amazing," I told him, "because it kept popping into my head these past weeks. Then I opened my email yesterday and there was a message from ... Professor Snodgrass."
Professor Snodgrass, whose name was showing up in my head weeks before class started, taught my Pastoral Counseling Skills class at Fordham in early June.
WE WERE HEADED TO THE VINEYARD AND I WAS THINKING OF SOMEONE I HOPED TO SEE
Someone I hadn't met in the real world yet, but with whom I had connected through a friend, online. Her family's story was deeply inspirational to me and she had become a reader of my stories. We did some of that cyberspace gushing that you genuinely hope transfers eventually to real life.
I wondered if she and her family would be at the memorial service I was officiating, for the dad of the friend we have in common.
No dice. They were there, but left before I had the chance to see them.
We got on the 9:30 ferry on Sunday to leave the Vineyard and then boarded the bus to the Palmer parking lot.
There are nine ferries out of Vineyard Haven on a Sunday and two parking lots filled with hundreds of cars. The folks I had hoped to see were on our bus. We connected. We hugged, gushed, talked of seeing each other again on the island, later in the summer.
Is this world, this life, just a bunch of disconnected and random occurrences? Probably not.
Are we where we need to be when we need to be there? Probably.
Do you need more evidence? I hope not.
Just in case, here's a sweet little one:
When Coco and I walked into the juice shop in Vineyard Haven before we got on the boat yesterday there was a little sign on the door that said We are open now ... with their new hours, and then underneath.. Woo hoo!
I was sad to be leaving the island, but excited to see my west coast nephews, who are visiting this week. They call me Auntie Woo hoo.
Obviously that's just a little thing, nothing all that synchronous about a sign in a shop window and a sweet nickname and kids coming to visit from far away. I guess, we tune in to what we tune in to, right? We see what we want to see. To a certain degree we tailor the world to mesh with our experience.
Or maybe we don't. Maybe we just think we do. Either way, life is a lot of fun and quite mesmerizing. Shimmery, hopeful. I have plenty of stories that contradict that, but I prefer the ones with evidence of the angels in the architecture, the ones about the guides and spirits "all along the way who will befriend us."
There is a trick, though: you have to want it, you have to imagine, you have to be the same kid who believed that a fat man in a suit visited every house in the world on Christmas Eve, the kid who believed a giant bunny brought a basket of candy and hid it in your kitchen. That during the night a tiny fairy took the tooth that fell out at lunchtime from under your pillow and left you a dollar. I mean, it doesn't have to be quite that weird, but that same heart is still beating in your chest. It's in you, the kid who is willing to participate in the weaving of the magic stories of this world.
Snodgrass, ferries and busses ... Woo hoo! And amen.