Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Miraculous Reunion

Deepali and I at the Chester Creek Café, July 6, 2014.
Twenty-six years ago, I left Bombay (now Mumbai), India after completing a one year Rotary Exchange Program. One of my closest Indian friends was my college Biology lab partner, Deepali. Her outgoing, adventurous spirit and easy laughter were a blessing as I spent each day struggling to understand the professors' thickly accented, quickly spoken English. Deepali and I worked to figure out each lab assignment in constant fear as we had no real idea of what we were supposed to be doing (well, Deepali had a much clearer idea than I did). Our professor was a no-nonsense woman, with a shrill voice who screamed readily at students in front of the class.

The assignment we both remember clearly was our rat dissection. We both cried - in class - when we opened up the rat to find eight perfect babies inside. Our professor was unimpressed - with our emotional out-poring and the demise of our pregnant rat with her eight perfect babies.

After returning to the U.S., I began college and wrote letters to Deepali. Boys were a common thread and 3 years later my dear friend married her self-described "prince charming" in an arranged marriage, as is common in India.

Deepali and I lost touch and then reconnected after she moved with her young family to California in the late-90s. Phone calls, the occasional letter, and, more recently, Facebook, kept us updated on each others lives. Although our friendship remained strong, we did not see each other in all those years.

On July 4th, that changed. On a beautiful Duluth summer day, my husband and I took our visiting friends from New York to the Maritime Museum in Canal Park, a tourist-y area of shops, hotels, and restaurants. After watching a dated, ten minute, children's film about the working of the Soo locks at the eastern-most end of Lake Superior, I stood up and there stood Deepali ... in front of me. We hugged and laughed and hugged some more. I couldn't stop staring at her in utter disbelief. She asked, "What are you doing here?" I replied, "I live here, what are YOU doing here?"

It was a miraculous alignment of circumstances that lead to our happy reunion.

But for my friends arriving later than expected and Deepali accompanying her husband on a business trip to Minneapolis with their youngest son ...

But for our decision to walk from our apartment to the Maritime Museum, instead of search endlessly for parking and Deepali and her husband's spontaneous decision to drive 3 hours North on July 4th to see the lake ...

But for our guests from NY feeling well enough to do a little sight-seeing despite feeling under-the-weather (the following day turned into a much needed resting, couch day for them) and Deepali's husband's insistence that the family watch what Deepali felt for certain was a corny movie not worth the time (except for meeting me, she was right) ...

and But for the woman with big hair sitting in front of me near the wall, which caused me move to an aisle seat in the next row back ...

But for all of these seemingly insignificant circumstances we may have been in the same city, the same building, and the same room and never have known it.

But for the Universe perfectly aligning our paths, we would still be miles apart with Facebook as our only tangible link.

We met for brunch two days later and Deepali began our conversation with, "Now tell me everything that has happened to you since I saw you last." We had last seen each other in July 1988. As we caught up on all the major events of each others lives, it was heartwarming to realize that the friendship we developed when we were 17 years old remained vital over all those miles, life changes, and the personal growth that inevitably happens over 26 years.

After hearing the story, Deepali's oldest son said that we both must have really wanted to meet to make this happen. We both agreed. And, through no intentional planning on our parts, I finally met her prince charming, whom she wrote about so many years ago. May the Universe continue to bless us all with equally miraculous happenings.

No comments:

Post a Comment