Friday, August 21, 2009

Fit for a Novel

Something happened today that felt like it could be a tiny--but nevertheless indispensable--detail of something bigger that will not fully reveal its importance until all the other little pieces it will be made up of are in place.

You know, some little quirk that will make lines cross and stick together that wouldn't have crossed or stuck together if it weren't for this quirk. They're always in novels--I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

"If I hadn't been late that day, I wouldn't have met so-and-so in the subway, and if I hadn't met so-and-so in the subway, I would never have been invited to that party, and if I hadn't been invited to that party, I would never have..." and on and on into infinity.

In fact, I would like to start writing a novel myself just because of this. This quirk of today, I mean. Make up a grand story to go with it.

(Well, only until I know whether it actually was that indispensable little twist of fate that changed everything, or whether it was just any old event that won't lead anywhere at all. And who knows? Maybe truth will prove to be stranger than fiction).

But seeing as how I'm really too lazy to start writing a novel at the moment, and don't really feel like I have a profound message I would like to share with the world (which is the only real reason you should ever write a novel), I decided to just put it in my blog:

Last Friday I posted some pictures to a person I probably shouldn't have posted some pictures to, but nonetheless I did just that, all the while telling myself that I didn't do it because I expected an answer or anything from him. I just wanted him to have the pictures we took. As a last... I'm not sure what.

I would have e-mailed them to him, but we sort of don't talk. Even electronically.

In any event, I wrote a few lines and ended the letter with these words:

"PS If you deleted my phone number, it's--" such-and-such.

And then I carefully printed the address on the envelope. A typically unspecific Egyptian address without zip codes or building numbers, but carefully printed all the same.

Writing this blog now, I realize that the events leading up to what happened today are actually just as important and indispensable as the quirk itself. Without them, the quirk would have been meaningless, or rather, wouldn't have existed at all as the quirk I now know it (or term it). Which sort of tells me that all that happens in life can actually be endowed with life-changing importance, once sufficient time has passed and we can order the events into a nice chain of cause-and-effect in our minds and make the pieces fit together. Because that's the way we make sense of the world, isn't it?

"If it weren't for the fact that I postscripted my phone number at the bottom of that letter..."

Anyway, I've waited for a week. Feeling less and less convinced that I had managed to convince myself that I didn't expect or desire a reply; and instead more and more impatient to hear the promising buzzing sound from my phone and the ensuing first bars of one of Amr Diab's latest hits.

But my phone has, of course, been defiantly still and quiet.

Until today sometime at noon when I was out in the backyard making the best of the last of the summer rays. The phone vibrated but Amr Diab didn't really have a chance to get started before I snatched up the phone and opened the message.

"Hello. My name is--" so-and-so "I have received by mistake your letter to--" so-and-so "with some photos. I want to deliver it to the correct person. Please send me his mobile number. Sorry again as I opened it. As it was sent to my address and same family name."

I felt curiously shaky as if the blood had drained from my head. Or from most of my veins, really. Or more like the blood was still there, but didn't do what it was supposed to do.

It wasn't because the photos were of us in swimsuits, or because there might have been one or two in which we might have been kissing behind a tree or anything. It was because now there's absolutely no way my brain can construct excuses somewhere along the line "But what if the letter was delivered to the wrong address and he never got the package, and that's why he's not texting or calling?" if he doesn't contact me in some way.

But that's already my brain organizing things trying to make sense out of something with the privilege of hindsight. Because at noon, I wasn't thinking this at all. It was more like, "Oh my God, a message pertaining to the person I've been dying to hear from for over a month now; it's not from him, but it's from somebody with the same last name that will call him and deliver my package so there's absolutely no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the package actually will reach its intended destination. And when it reaches him, he will contact me somehow, won't he? He has to, doesn't he?" And my brain started making up all sorts of likely scenarios of what might happen now, and why, and the reasons behind this other person receiving my package in lieu of this first person.

But then my phone has been disconcertingly quiet. Which is why it is tempting to reconstruct my noontime thoughts on the matter and instill some kind of continuity into the random collection of thoughts and events, as if there were a clear pattern all along, only I couldn't see it until all the pieces were there.

"The quirk was the turning-point at which I knew--finally--that I had to let go of hope that this person will ever care about me again. And the mystery man with the same last name as the intended recipient of my letter and photographs was the indispensable link that made it clear to me once and for all: if it hadn't been for his text message, I would still have wondered if the silence of my phone wasn't really a result of the fact of an undelivered package. And my last-minute idea of including my phone number in the letter, the instrument with which he could make it clear to me. See how everything fits together?"

But it doesn't. It is only our ordering of things that makes them fit together. As a matter of fact, I have a growing sensation that nothing really makes any sense at all until we decide it does.

And there you go. A profound message after all.

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