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a story of sliding doors

Gwyneth Paltrow, circa 1998 on a hot and humid Friday night. It got me thinking, about a lot of different things. If it isn’t obvious enough already, I’ve got a bit of a thing for Fate. Those of you who have seen this movie may argue that it’s actually based on coincidence, but you can’t deny that Fate (we’re close now so she’s capitalised) or destiny totally plays a part. Either way she was going to meet the lovely Scottish James, their paths would cross no matter what, because people, some things are just meant.to.be.

So, as I was saying, it got me thinking. Not just about specific paths of mine that have been crossed by rather special people, but also the paths that I chose all by myself, or rather that Fate chose for me. One in particular that will always stick in my mind, mainly because it changed the entire course of my life to date, was back in 2006. I was huddled under the stairs in my family’s humble abode surfing the internet. I wanted a change. I typed ‘teach drama’ into google. Anything could have popped up, but the very first thing was ‘teach drama in South Africa.’ It sounded cool. I called to my Mum, “Mum, I’m going to teach drama in South Africa.” She came running through and was like “Whaaat?” Then, “Oh South Africa is beautiful, but don’t choose Limpopo, choose that other place.”

I settled on K-nysna. Yeah. I had no idea how to actually pronounce it back then, but I was going.

I went. It was the most ridiculously amazing 3 months of my life (back then anyway), and I decided on a sunny day in Cape Town that I wasn’t going to leave. Well, I had to leave, but I was coming back.

I did go back. And because I went back, here I am in Taipei today. Because if I hadn’t gone back, then I wouldn’t have gotten a scholarship to China, and I wouldn’t have then moved to China, and then I wouldn’t have won the Taiwan competition and I wouldn’t be sitting here in my little room typing this from Taipei today. Or well, maybe I would be, but that’s not the point.

Everything happens for a reason. No, but really.

Last October I was lying in the grass at a music festival here in Taipei. I was in a daze but out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a girl wearing a dress covered in boats. I was thinking I really like her dress, but I was also thinking I know that girl. Then she was gone. Her boats sailed back into the dancing crowds.

I found her again later. Turns out she went to Rhodes University in South Africa. She sat a few rows behind me in English Literature in first year. Of course she did.

I was on my bike a couple weeks after that and I saw her blonde curls bobbing along to the beat from her ginormous head-phones. I cycled up to her and well, a cup of tea and a brownie later, and I may as well have known her all along.

Moral of the story? Our paths could have crossed so many times in South Africa. Actually, if we want to talk literally, our paths did cross, probably everyday. Infact on the day of our English exam my friend took a picture of me as I came skipping out, stoked that exams were over, and in this picture this girl is standing right next to me. And yet, it wasn’t until 4 years later, on a noisy street in Taipei that we really got talking, and it has worked out wonderfully. We met each other when we were ‘supposed’ to and I think our friendship has blossomed in this special land more than it may have done in little Grahamstown.

I mean we missed out on years of painful laughter, dancing until the small hours, tea and cake, cycling, and many more adventures, but we are sure making up for it now! Good things do come to those who wait and all that jazz.

I hope they do anyway…which leads me to another story.

As the sun began to emerge from behind the dusty clouds, the girl awoke with a sense of dread. Today was the day she had to complete her mission. Her mission to undergo one of her many dreams. The clock seemed to jump straight to afternoon and before she knew it she was crawling under her bed to find the ugliest sweater possible (impossible, sweaters are cosy and pretty). Finally, she gave in. The majority would find at least one of them suitable for the theme. Adorning a red number, complete with white fluffy snowballs, she grabbed a bag of sweet strawberries and even though she didn’t really feel like going to an-what she assumed- all-American party, something beyond her control forced her into the taxi and sped her across the city.

On the other side of the fake Eiffel Tower, in between waking up rainbows and writing about the latest Lomo fad, a boy was strolling through the back streets of the neighbourhood when a colourful number caught his eye. The seller of this garment probably stared in disbelief at this young guy buying the ‘ugliest’ sweater from the bottom of the pile, in the furthest back-water street of the city, but for the boy, it fitted the occasion perfectly.

And so as the gifts were unwrapped and the beers successfully (not for everyone) shotgunned, moonlight began to trickle onto the night. Time seemed to slow down, the party never ending, or maybe the moment was just embraced, each second lingering slightly longer than usual.

The girl found herself lost in the eclipse of the moon. She forgot her surroundings, and gave herself entirely to the moment… and continued to do so until her impending departure later in the week…

Little did the girl know, if only she had avoided the collection of old suitcases and broken hearts, she could have met the boy earlier. If only she had opened her eyes a little more that day of the market, the day she saw him pass by in a flash. If only the clocks could have been more aligned. But alas, they were not, and so for now, she will just go with it, the thought that ‘if it’s meant to be…’ patiently lingering in her jar of nostalgia.

If I hadn’t looked up from my summer daze at the concert, would I have met that girl at some other point? Possibly. Probably. And if she hadn’t forced herself to dash across the city in a taxi to a party, would the girl have met the boy? Maybe. But it may also have been her last chance.

Fate is a funny thing, but I like her.

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