Let me give you an example of what I used to consider some synchronicity.
My grandad enjoyed gambling, but in an old man kind of way. He’d spend £40 on the lottery every week and then get so pleased when he won £10. He would place teeny tiny bets on horses every day. One reason I went a bit crazybrains looking after him was because of daily trips to that fucking bookies. I had life-changing moments in that shop. It’s where I was when 7/7 happened. We spent so much time in there that when my grandad died, the devastated bookmaker came to his funeral and shed more tears than my mother. I’m not even kidding.
My grandad had always said that if he won the lottery, he’d move to the Norfolk countryside and buy a house in a tiny village that had one pub and get some chickens. After he died, I had to find somewhere else to live and the only family I had that I had even the vaguest relationship with lived in Norfolk. The only place I could find to live was a room in a house in a tiny village, and you know where this is going to go, right? There was one pub and chickens in my garden and I was almost living the dream. His dream. Perhaps I should have played the lottery and bought the house with the winnings.
One day I was being driven to the village shop when we got held in a equine traffic jam. My friend started cursing the owner of the horses when I realised I recognised her name. See, my grandad was a sucker for coincidences and there was a racehorse trainer who had the same surname as his best friend. A lot of the horses she raced had godawful names based on puns of her name and my grandad would always bet on them if they were running – even though they weren’t particularly good. Apparently one won at 100-1 once, which I’m sure paid out well for the 25p he put on it. But anyway, this was that woman! I had somehow moved to the same village without realising it.
That’s a pretty cool coincidence, right? It absolutely made me feel like everything would actually be okay once the crippling pain subsided, because there was something out there trying to bring sense to the chaos.
So what are the chances of all these things actually happening? I have no idea. The family I had in Norfolk were nothing to do with my grandad’s side and they never interacted at all. In fact, I don’t even know if he went to Norfolk at all aside from when he was evacuated there during the war. His stories of that time weren’t happy ones; imagine being evacuated away from the Thames and then having your mum come and get you from your safe house because you and your brothers weren’t being fed and all had scabies. They took their chances with Nazis instead.
(Kids these days aren’t going to hear this sort of stuff from their grandparents, so let’s collect their stories. We don’t have long.)
It was all probably more likely than I realise though. I don’t know… it just feels a bit crushing to hear that the occurrence of those events doesn’t mean a thing, when the very meaning of my existence is tied into the exact occurrence of those events. Adding that bit of meaning to my life story means that chapter actually makes some sense – why on earth would I move to Norfolk otherwise? I’m a town girl. I need a bit of life. I went so mad in the countryside that I was addicted to four different types of drugs when I left and only two of them were legal.
But I didn’t have a choice at the time, did I?
I don’t feel like I have much choice now, either. I feel a lot more about it than you realise.