â€œA certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish—but there was no diamond inside. Thatâ€™s what I like about coincidence.â€Â —Vladimir Nabokov
A weird concatenation of circumstances. Coincidence. Or, as we sometimes say in our family, when we want to annoy each other, “coinkydink.”
I was in Nashville on Saturday getting my hair done for my daughter’s wedding. I had consideredÂ not getting my hair and makeup done, because of the expense and the risk of looking funny. But in order to hang out with the girls, I opted for the full monty. When the young woman doing my hair politely asked what I do for a living, I mentioned teaching, and then I thought, Go for it, and mentioned that I wrote a book. I was describing the book’s topic, alluding to my mother and usingÂ the general term “mental illness,” when the stylist asked me what the mental illness was, and I told her borderline personality disorder. Her hands in my hair suddenly got very still.
“My mother has borderline personality disorder,” she said.
There ensued a meeting of minds, a sharing of experiences, and some rueful laughter. Suffice it to say, the stylist and I hugged when my coif was complete, and she gave me her email address.
Then today, my daughter’s wedding announcement appeared in the (wait for it)Â New York Times.Â A couple of weeks ago, Margaret was asking for the appropriate titles for her parents’ jobs in order to submit her courtship story for the paper. I dutifully said that John programs films for the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque and the Cleveland Museum of Art and that I teach Latin at Cleveland State. And then I thought, Go for it, andÂ Margaret dutifully added the title of my book,Â Missing: Coming to Terms with a Borderline Mother.Â
As of tonight, my website has had about fiveÂ times its usual number of hits. Who knows what else will ensue?
No one understands more deeply and poignantly than I that this past weekend was about Margaret and Tim and their friends. I’m not saying it wasn’t. But it has other ripples of meaning, too, for everyone who attended.
Some people say there are no coincidences. I think there are. If they have meaning, we don’t know it. If they don’t have meaning, we can ascribe it. I like what that cheeky Vladimir Nabokov wrote about coincidences, but I also like how frequent, mysterious, and meaningful they can sometimes seem.