Thursday, July 19, 2012

On serendipity and drunken, barefoot dancing

Two of my best pals celebrated their third wedding anniversary yesterday.

I remember their wedding vividly, which is surprising since I spent much of the blessed event attempting to drink my own body weight in chardonnay.

It's staggering to look back on that day and consider how different my life was then. I was married and figured I'd stay that way forever. I'd never met the boys who would eventually be my housemates. I didn't have a book deal, and if memory serves, had just been rejected by Sourcebooks for Making Waves (the book they eventually acquired as part of my three-book deal for romantic comedies).

But what's most interesting to me now is to realize my gentleman friend was also at the wedding. We were seated at the same reception table, and had a brief conversation about the divorce he'd been going through that year. I remember feeling sympathetic, but smug in the knowledge that would never happen to me.

It's funny to look back now and realize the significance of that seemingly-insignificant conversation with a guy I barely knew. I'm fascinated by these random, frozen moments in time when I imagine some lingerie-clad fairy godmother swooping in to interrupt the discussion. "Pardon me," she'd say. "Three years from now the two of you will live together and will be hopelessly, deliriously in love with one another."

I'm certain I would have smacked her with a fly-swatter and snorted, "Bitch, get real."

As a romance author, I'm particularly drawn to these odd little moments of serendipity.

Flipping through my pal's wedding photos last summer, I stumbled upon a picture that seemed like nothing significant at first:

That's me in the blue and white dress dancing very, very badly.

But take a closer look at the picture:

That's my gentleman friend, long before he was anything but a random acquaintance taking photographs of drunken dancers at a wedding.

The pictures he took that night floated around on Facebook for awhile afterward, with none of us thinking twice about there being anything remotely significant about the moment captured on camera:

One of the photos my gentleman friend snapped that evening.

It's funny to look at the photos now and think about who I was in those moments – who he was – and how truly bizarre it is that we've ended up where we are right now. I can sit back pretending to be an outside observer and wonder, "how did those two people end up together?"

That question is at the core of every single romance novel I've read or written. It's one of the most intriguing questions I can imagine, and one of the reasons I love writing the sort of stories I get to write.

Can you think of any serendipitous moments in your life? Any conversations or images frozen in your mind that turned out to be more meaningful than you realized at the time? Please share!

And please take a moment to offer a heartfelt HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my wonderful pals. Now where's the rest of that chardonnay?


Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

I'm not sure this is serendipity but - I had been reading Evanovich and thinking I didn't like romance. Then I chanced to read a list of books she recommended. One of them was Agnes and the Hitman by Jenny Crusie. I was so blown away. I read every word Crusie wrote and then checked out her blog. She was so giving about how to write that I soon stopped pretending I didn't want to write and dug in.
Also, I found wonderful writers like Tawna Fenske.
That list so stands out in my mind. Shelly Foreman was on there, too and I love her as well. Also someone who encourages me to write.

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

ps I mean Crusie led me to you, Tawna. And, of course, you led me to Linda Grimes. It's never ending and I love it!

Mia Hayson said...

Such a wonderful post!

I don't know that I have an equally significant moment/story to compare it to but I like being able to look back on my past self and smile at the way I thought things would go.


Dani said...

How awesome is this! What a cool and wonderful experience... not the divorce but everything wonderful that followed. I have a lots of moments when I look back on my life and I find it all so great!

Thanks for sharing!

Linda G. said...

Awww. I love stories like this. You and your gentleman friend were obviously fated to be. :)

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Mary said...

Serendipity is the coolest thing ever. I love when seemingly random threads weave together into something awesome.

And now you have a meet-cute story to tell people! Double win.

Noelle Pierce said...

That's an awesome story! I love moments like that, when you realize things took certain paths to lead you to your current situation. (I'm a believer in fate/destiny/serendipity, so it makes sense).

My husband of 10 years and I have a similar story. I was waiting in the lounge for a grad school interview, and he (being the outgoing flirt that he is) sat down and started talking to me. I'm an introvert, and my next interview was with a woman who was renowned at the school for having a negative personality, so I wasn't having any of his flirtatious conversation. I blew him off. Fast forward six months to Halloween (I got accepted to the grad school), where a friend of mine told me she'd met this guy who invited us to a "Second Year" [student]'s Halloween party. After a few months of only fraternizing with students in our own year, we jumped at the chance. The guy lived in my apartment complex, and showed up on my doorstep a few nights later to pick us up for the party. We hit it off, and in a month, we lived together. Six months, we were engaged. Serendipity. (This October will mark our thirteenth Halloween together. :D)

Thanks for this post. I haven't thought about the day my husband and I unofficially met in a long time.

Penelope said...

Love this post!

My husband and I met 12 years ago because we were dating the same family.

As in, he was dating the sister in the family, and I was dating the brother.

We were both pretty seriously dating this other family, so my husband and I spent holidays, vacations and sporting events together without a clue we'd one day end up as husband and wife.

We laugh about this still, and I love our bit of history. What started as knowing each other only because of who we were dating turned into magic when we ran into each other 10 years later, both finally unattached.

Great topic, Tawna. Thanks for getting conversation going, and thanks for sharing your current joy!

Jen Stayrook said...

First, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to the love birds.

Second, you're adorable and I love everything about this story. I don't have much to add other than, reading this warmed the cockles of my ice-covered heart. :-)

Matthew MacNish said...

Man. I haven't been here in forever. My how you've changed. I didn't see one dirty joke in this whole post. Are you losing your touch, Tawna?

Just kidding. I don't know about this. Do I believe in Serendipity? Sure. I just don't know that it's ever happened to me.

Kristina L. Martin said...

Love this story...our paths sometimes seem fated do they not? Very happy that things have turned out for you as they did. I wonder what wonderful surprise awaits you just around the bend? :)

Sierra said...

Four years ago, an acquaintance from high school came into the coffee shop where I was working. We friended each other on Facebook, but never really hung out.

About six months later, I got a friend request from a guy I'd had a minor crush on in high school. He'd found me through that friend. We spent two weeks snarking at each other online, then met up for dinner. Dinner turned into 7 hours of hanging out and talking. We were inseparable from that point on.

Today, we're still together and madly in love. Despite the fact that we were living only 4 miles apart, we never would have found each other if it hadn't been for that random person from high school. Serendipity rocks.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

That's such a cool story! I don't know if I have anything quite so serendipitous, but after high school I did start dating this guy I really liked and had been great (platonic) friends with in high school - and my mom was the one who pointed out that, technically, he'd been my first homecoming date five years before. I'd completely forgotten! Funny how at the time, we'd decided we'd be better of as friends, but a few years later, things somehow changed. :)

Jessica Lemmon said...

Oh, how very cool!!!

I met my husband before I "met" him. He was our (my family and me) waiter. I elbowed my mother and kept muttering how cute and tall he was and how we'd have to leave him a big tip. Little did I know that in 3 months he'd start working at the restaurant I worked at on the other side of town. Five days after re-meeting him, I made myself conveniently single then asked him out. Two and a half months after that we were engaged. 14 years later, here we are. I hope that moment in a random Chili's will be forever etched in both our memories.

Rich Amooi said...

Nice! I love it and I'm so happy for you. And I love Serendipity!

About seven years ago, I had the sudden urge to learn Spanish. It was a STRONG urge. Everyone thought I was crazy since nobody in my family spoke the language, nor did any of my fiends for that matter. But I was motivated and bought CD's and books. I studied every day, at home, and in the car. Then, I joined a meet-up for Spanish speakers, eventually became one of the organizers, and planned a new meet-up at a Starbucks next to my house. There were eight Spanish speakers there that evening with me, and one empty seat to my right. A native Spanish-speaking woman from Spain walked in and took the empty seat next to me. We all were in awe of her beautiful accent, but I was even more in awe of her passion, positivity, playfulness, and smile. What did she think of me? She saw that I didn't have hair on my legs and wondered if I was gay...or a competition swimmer. But that's another story.

Two years after that day in Starbucks, we were married. We just celebrated our two year anniversary and I am fluent in Spanish.

My wife told me she had always seen those Spanish meet-ups, but never wanted to go because they were too far away. It wasn't until I scheduled a meet-up two blocks from her work, did she decide to go. What luck! Or was it?

Julie Glover said...

How about the serendipity of moving next door to my husband and then meeting him at a church event? We were both saying, "You look familiar." Finally, we discovered we were neighbors. It only took 8 months from then to tie the knot! I love saying, "I married the boy next door."