Saturday, June 11, 2005

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

I sometimes have to wonder about fate. I have always believed that everything is not predestined, that things happen as a result of a previous action. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, perhaps?: after this, therefore because of this. Everything happens because the previous action happened which caused the latest action to happen (a fallacy of logic):

Example: I slipped on the floor because I was wearing the new shoes I bought yesterday.

Sometimes out of the blue, things happen. However in my life, it has not been “things”, it’s been people. Things don’t happen to me; people happen to me. It almost seems as if they are “sent” to me. When I was 19, I became engaged to my high school sweetheart and announced our engagement at Christmas, after which my parents offered to me the truth that I was adopted as a baby. I left home to clear my head and made a new friend named Paul, in whom I confided my confusions about being adopted. And with Paul, I had my first gay experience. Now, I wasn’t gay, or so I thought, before that. He and I did not talk about homosexuality or anything like it. We discussed learning about yourself, and how you can go your entire life and, at the age of 80, still learn something about yourself you didn’t know at 30 or 50 or 70. Without Paul, eventually, I would have learned the truth about me being gay. But he seemed “sent” to me in order to find it out at a time when I was learning who I really was for the first time.

I met my best friend Jeff quite by accident. I had just ended my first real relationship with Ex#1, was lonely and had to move out of the house he and I shared. And as they do, the friends who came with the relationship … went with the relationship. So after a few weeks of sitting home alone, I went out one night and saw a friend of mine from back home. With him was Jeff. As our friend went off to flirt and flit, Jeff and I talked and got to know each other. Nothing sexual has ever happened between us in the last 16 years that we have known each other. But he came to me on a night when I was vulnerable and insecure. And he’s been there ever since.

On a day when bad news was following me around and I felt my mortality, I met Luke. I had been in NYC having tests run on this bad heart of mine (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). After two and a half grueling days of tests and scans and blood work, I learned that I am more fragile than I had originally thought. Perhaps a transplant within two years and certainly a lot more doctor visits to look forward to, I walked out of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital into a city full of strangers and there was no one there for me. I had gone alone, not wanting to put anyone through the pains of just sitting in waiting rooms for hours on end. I thought I could handle it by myself. I just wanted a hug, dammit! Luke was visiting NYC from Australia for the US Open. On my last night in the city, we met and it was as if we had always known each other. He lifted my spirits, refused to allow me a second of self-pity, and made me smile and laugh. Within a week, he visited me in DC for a few days and then returned home to Australia. Even today, he will email or call me and instantly I feel better – especially when I think that a person half way on the other side of the world is thinking about me.

Recently, there was Mike, whom I met on what was a very sad day for me. My relationship with Ex#5 had ended one month before. After talking to my ex and trying to make sense of what I could not understand, and feeling lonely and confused – I met Mike, this beautiful young naval linguist. We spent a few weeks together before he was shipped out on a submarine into foreign waters, due back June 18th. Friends of Ex#5's and mine were throwing their annual “Pride Brunch” on June 12th. Knowing Ex#5 would be there, I decided not to go, and knew I would spend the day wishing I could be there with our friends. The night before the brunch, Mike calls me from Chicago. His tour ended a week early and he would be back in DC on the 12th and he wanted to see me as soon as possible. So there he was – AGAIN – saving me from my own self-inflicted despair; taking my mind off of what I would have no doubt been thinking of all day.

And there are countless others that I have thought of even as I write this. They are all people who were unexpected, meeting me in situations that seemed more chance than predestined. And I am not too close-minded to think that perhaps it was not they who were “sent” to me, but rather me who was “sent” to them. Perhaps each of them needed a friend to care about or love in their lives at that time too. They are people who came into my life as strangers and each one took a small piece of my heart, and I a small piece of theirs. Perhaps with all of these small pieces from people who have cared about me, mine will be mended in no time.