It’s 3AM and I’m just now starting to wind down after flying home to California from Texas. My 91-year-old mom lives there. How a liberal democrat wound up in a Texas county that was dry (no alcohol sold in it) until a few years ago, is another story entirely.
Right now, I need to document the weird coincidences that happen in my life with absurd regularity.
I arrived in Dallas via Southwest Airlines and then picked up my rental car. After getting up at 4:15AM/ aka “0’dark stupid” to catch my flight, a 2.25 hour drive lay in front of me, through some of the poorest areas of Texas (look up Wood County). I had a huge iced coffee and decent music so the trip wouldn’t be too bad. In the last eight years I’d come to know where to stop for any reason along the way, although many miles still contained a whole lotta nothing ( and roof antennas on trailers). I swear every time I’d do the drive Waze sends me on a new route out of Dallas. This time it was through an area that was very un-typical Texas like: Tattoo parlors, vegan restaurants, new apartment buildings, and funky rehabbed Victorian cottages lined the two-lane road. But the five lefts and six rights still led me to the familiar highway and car traffic thinned out as trucks multiplied as I headed east.
When I arrived at my mom’s winsome, cottage-like yellow ranch house, she and her sweet little white dog Happy, (who is now 12 and more like Grumpy) were very glad to see me. For 91, my mom is doing exceptionally well (still lives alone), but hugging her, I was aware of how she’d aged in the nine months since I’d seen her.
I wanted to cook her dinner a few times while I was there, so one morning we headed to the “local” grocery store.
I am not kidding. She lives in a gated, heavily-wooded, and narrow-roaded, community where there’s a definite divide between vacation home owners, retirees, and lower income people. Some residents ride around in golf carts (even ones who don’t play), there’s a lake, a pool, a weight room, and a clubhouse/restaurant that’s had a series of owners and managers all of whom simply couldn’t make the business viable because the HOA refuses to open it to the public and most residents can’t afford to eat there. Despite all the amenities, most people here have shallow pockets, a handful of retirees, and a few mansion dwellers/golf players being the exception. There’s even what mom calls “the rich section”.
Said grocery store is the closest one to her (?!?) and has a selection of BBQ/barbecue/barbeque sauces that takes up nearly half an aisle, but no Paul Newman Dressing, cuts of pork I’ve never heard of, but no lamb, nine brands of white bread and five brands of wheat, but no pumpernickel, a five-pound bag of gold potatoes, but you can’t buy just six, salsa, salsa and more salsa, and ice cream prices as high as a 7-11.
We collected what we needed and arrived at the checkout where my mom was on a first name basis with nearly everyone and they were very glad to see her. The man bagging (plastic!) our dinner-to-be looked to be in his sixties.
And here’s where it gets really weird.
He grinned at me, “You’re from California!”
I looked at him, dumbfounded. How in the hell would he possibly know that?
“I am. But how…”
“The license plate on your car!” He said, “I saw you pull in.”
God as my witness, I never noticed what state the car was from when I picked it up at the car rental lot. After all I was in Texas, I didn’t give it a second thought.
“So where are you from in California? He asked with slightly too much interest for this introvert, as he continued to bag our purchases.
(No one recognizes the name of my town when I say it, so I always just say “San Diego”).
“Where in San Diego?” He pressed.
I named the town and his grin widened “My kids went to that high school!” He exclaimed. “I used to live in R.” (The the town right next to me.)
An tingle-like shiver went over the top of my head. My younger son goes to that high school RIGHT NOW. I laughed out loud nervously and he joined in as he pushed our cart to the car. (Everyone gets this service here, whether you want it or not. It’s southern hospitality and wanting to visit/chat. I’ve actually seen a cart tug-of-war between a customer and an employee and immediately assumed the customer has never been in the store before).
We chatted more as he put bags in the trunk, as he hadn’t been back to my town in several years, and wanted to know if some things hadn’t changed.
After pleasant goodbyes, my mom and I got into the car and closed the doors. I looked at her as I started it up. “And this is my synchronistic life.” She smiled.
I say no.
You see: Two months prior I was in Las Vegas on business and my Uber driver on the way to the airport struck up the usual conversation:
Driver: “Where are you headed?”
Driver: “Really? I used to live in MY TOWN.”
Me: “Seriously? That’s where I live.”
Driver: “I was a teacher at ‘THE HIGH SCHOOL MY SON GOES TO’. I retired four years ago and moved here.”
I decided I have to start writing these down. It happens so often I nearly question my sanity. I need witnesses and documentation.
Because the next book I write will have the title Synchonicities: My Life is Weird.