If you've ever seen Parks and Recreation, you know that Ron Swanson loves red meat, America, and storing his gold in unmarked locations. If you really watch Parks and Recreation, you also know that Ron Swanson loves whiskey, specifically, Lagavulin.
So, when Papa and I watched Parks and reached that episode, it was obvious that we, too, would be purchasing a bottle. While my father was not a drinker, he enjoyed buying liquor, a strange hobby he qualified with "in case someone comes over and drinks something specific." Over the years, we acquired quite the collection, but of all the bottles he had bought, Lagavulin was special. It was something we bought together. It was purposeful. We spoke of visiting the distillery one day, just like Ron. When we were cleaning out things, I couldn't even get myself to throw its box, and so, the empty box currently sits on my desk.
Last week, I went to the basement to check the humidity. (The fact that I'm slowly becoming my father does not escape me.) There was a small piece of paper on the floor. Mom keeps the house spotless (a skill that I am hoping will eventually seep to me like osmosis), so it was odd that she would have missed this. I picked it up and walked to the trash. I flipped it over.
How? The box had been moved to my room last year. I've been to the basement hundreds of times since then, even to that exact location, and never saw it. How did it get there? Why then?
There could be a very obvious answer: coincidence. And I agree with that answer. Like my father, I'm practical. This is the world and that's all we've got. Nothing more. Nothing "beyond." When you die, you die.
We visited Harminder Sahib in Amritsar, Punjab last month. At a casual 95 degrees, the sun bounced off the white marble, making it difficult to see or walk. We were constantly squinting, wiping off sweat, and trying to navigate among the thousands of people around us. While maneuvering through the crowd, I happened to look up. He must have been a police officer or some government official, but the first thing I saw wasn't his face. It was his name tag, right at my eye level.
And yet, the same thing happened in a Teach For America office a few months ago. I was waiting to meet someone and saw a whiteboard with a list of corps members, and there it was again, a few names down.
I wish I could say that we should stop meeting like this, but this is all I'm given. One coincidence after another that starts to feel less and less like chance. This is how I see you nowadays--in slips of paper that fall on the ground and strangers who share your name.
A year and a half later, and we're still meeting.