My former stationery is a three-fold card with a periwinkle bow wrapped around it. It looks like a birth announcement of sorts. I wanted something different, the way most of us do when it comes to stationery. The opening of the first fold reveals a small frog. Then once the card blossoms fully, it reveals my oncewife name. It’s time for new stationery… something with a turtle and Klein.
I have a small obsession with turtles. At one time it was monkeys, but now it has turned to turtles. With a turtle, not unlike writers, sometimes you have to stick your neck out. Mostly, you hide beneath a hard shell, but beneath it all, you’re soft as flan. Then there’s the old-age slow and steady wins the race bit. I’m all about turtles.
I’m a big believer in things being more than coincidence. I crunch on hunch for breakfast, and one morning I began to read a book (The Joy Diet) about demystifying intuition. It’s not some new age, palm, crystals, and incense, oh joy!, book. It is, however, an exercise book. Mad Libs for adults. One of the exercises said to think of something unusual, something you never see, and soon you’ll find that thing all over the place. You’ll be more in tuned… it will be top of mind. When I got to work that morning, I checked my snailmail box. Sure enough, one of the stamps on the first piece of mail on the pile was of an ornate box turtle (I keep the stamp in my desk to this day). Then I cruised over to Mae’s web site and noticed she wrote about finding a baby turtle. It was crazy. (She then gave me a wind-up turtle for my desk)
In Italy, Smelly and I were at dinner, sitting outside on the cobblestone streets of Rome near the Spanish Steps. It was a tiresome and emotionally taxing day for both of us. Between slurps of my spaghetti, I told Smelly I believe there’s an order to things in the world. There’s a universe out there that puts things in front of us. It’s how we respond, how we pay attention, which defines our lives. I tell her to have faith. I whisper to her my story about turtles. I tell her to pick something of her own: butterflies, she decides. She’s feeling better now. She begins to lean over and sink her fork into a twirl of pasta ribbons. When I look up from my plate, a street vendor is standing beside our table. He didn’t have single roses to offer; he was selling stone carved animal ornaments. Immediately, he puts a handful of stone turtles on my empty bread plate. Smelly and I don’t move. We just stare at one another. I bought a turtle. You can’t NOT buy a turtle after that. (And, no, the dude was not there when I told Smelly the turtle story—you cynic) Smelly sees, and photographs, a butterfly the next day. It’s a sign. Everything will be okay.
My grandmother is at Calvary Hospital. My father had just gotten a new car, and the car had a timer, to track time from a’s to b’s. My father, being who he is, timed his journey to the hospital from work. 19 minutes, 58 seconds. Grandma says the female cantor just visited her. She’s telling my father this because she wants to set up the cantor with my father’s bachelor hermetic brother Steven. On her deathbed, she’s still trying to play matchmaker for everyone. “Sam, run home and get Stephanie’s Bat Mitzvah photos to show the doctor.” She barks. Grandma kibitzes with the cantor, asking where she lives, and the cantor replies, “Oh about 19 minutes and 58 seconds away.” This was the first story she told my father when he arrived to greet her. Why didn’t she say, “about 20 minutes”? Is that coincidence or a sign? I believe it’s a sign that there are random thoughts in the universe that bounce around.
When my father felt especially down, he’d visit my grandmother Beatrice’s grave. He cried to her headstone, “Make the pain stop. Please help me find my way.” Then he drove to visit a woman named Carol who lived in New Rochelle. Her directions led to his cursing. There might have been a detour. Then, he spotted it. Beatrice Lane. When he arrives at Carol’s house, she assures him, after her 15 years in that town, there is no Beatrice Lane. It was a small sign before a hint of a road.
On their wedding day, my father drives to pick up my grandfather for the ceremony. The license plate on the car in front of him is my grandmother’s initials. It’s a sign. She’s giving a blessing.
Today, on my way to work in a taxicab driven by a female driver (I was asked just last night if I’ve had a female driver lately) I drove past Zanzibar and noticed for the first time the turtle logo. I love when more than chance is at play. It’s creepy in a good way.
Lately, I’ve had a lot of creepy in a good way.
I believe in all of this stuff… maybe because it makes me feel better. I don’t care. I believe in it the way I believe in water and air. It’s wonderful when you meet people who share a connection (I hate that word… connection. It’s as bad as spark. But you know what I mean…I’m calling it LINK SHARE… even though that means something entirely different). Scary, creepy even, but wonderful just the same. It gives you hope.