My mother is a big believer in signs.
I don't know if it's something that she's always believed in, but I do know that somewhere around my teenage years she started repeating the same mantra, over and over, to my sister and I: the Universe speaks to us. And it's our job to listen, or else.
The reality that I occupy is a little more practical than that -- to be totally honest, I usually change the subject when my mom says things like this. I am skeptical to a fault, so even though I do believe in things like gut checks and instinct, I draw the line at signs.
There are moments that often stop me dead in my tracks -- the kinds of moments that I have to shake off and, frankly, push away, because they don't fit into my more pragmatic beliefs.
A couple weeks ago I found myself grappling with a moment that pushed hard against the edges of my skepticism, the part of me that says that life isn't anything but a series of unrelated coincidences.
Noah and I had driven to Downtown Long Beach to cheer for my sister, who happened to be running a marathon (hello). The streets around downtown were closed, so we parked a few miles away and started to walk. About twenty minutes in, my cell phone died, which left me with no way to contact my brother-in-law, and no way to find him or my sister.
Noah and I walked for almost two hours, like two blind people in a room full of people. He kept asking me what we were going to do, and I kept answering that I didn't know -- there were 23,000 runners and I was searching for one, a veritable needle in a haystack.
Finally, we sat down on a street corner, watching as a torrent of runners flew by in a blur. Pretty soon, one runner caught my eye as he ran by -- he was wearing a shirt that had a name plastered across the front, and that name ... well, we all have them. Those names that forever belong to one person, someone who forever occupies a space in your mind. It was a name that I could never casually toss around or assign to anyone else -- it was the name of my oldest childhood friend.
A few minutes later, when I turned around, that same friend was standing right next to me.
He handed over his cell phone without hesitation, and after a quick conversation with my brother-in-law, I had my instructions: in about 30 minutes, look for pink shoes. I thanked my friend, handed back his phone, and we went our separate ways.
Thirty minutes later, there she was.
I was so excited when I saw her that I ran into the middle of the street wooping and cheering at the top of my lungs. Noah was on my heels, shouting too, and in that moment I almost believed that my mom has been right all along.
Thank you Universe, for the sign.
And thank you old friend, for always saving me when I need it.