All that is to be is written. All that was never to be was written too. We were never in control of anything. Sometimes we have no idea why we make the choices we do. Mostly they defy any kind of logic.
Why did I decide to study in London all those years ago? Because it was sunny the day I arrived, walking down Wolburn Place from King’s Cross to Russell Square. I was an agnostic then, but in my heart I truly believed that God was guiding me. Weird, but completely true.
How did I end up in West Ealing all those years back? My job was in Maidenhead. Why did I choose to take up lodgings with my brother’s wife’s sister in Hanwell and not just rent a place close to work?
Such weirdness. I used to walk from Ealing Broadway to Hanwell, wandering down her road, completely oblivious that the one I would go on to marry lived there. Weirder still that a decade earlier I made friends with a youth worker on the Scottish Isle of Iona, who once lived opposite her.
How strange that I became friends with the chap who would introduce us. I was convinced he was an Englishman until the day he introduced me to his family, one sunny afternoon. He corrected those misconceptions as we disembarked at Southall park, wandering across the dual carriageway to his block of flats, moments after listening to my mildly racist diatribe on the bus. Oops.
He and his wife introduced me to my beloved just days later. I turned up for our introductions a scruff as usual, wearing jogging bottoms, while she was wearing a smart suit from work. Naturally our hosts told me off, asking me what on earth I was thinking, but I think of it as my princess and the pea test, for she has always claimed she did not notice. Well, we were married four months later.
Ealing town hall was decorated in blue and white police ribbons on the day of our marriage, for the Real IRA had blown up a pub just up the road a couple of days before. But we weren’t going to let anything stop us, neither family opposition nor terrorists. We followed it with a religious ceremony on Kingsland Road in East London, in a location it turned out my Irish grandmother had lived in the 1940s when she first came to England to work as a nurse.
Through my life, so much strangeness. Weird coincidences, paths crossed. Even at our wedding in Istanbul a year later we discovered that my friend from university in Scotland was friends of a family member in Ankara. Amusing all the more, because I remember him deriding me once for asking if he knew a friend of mine in London; he pointed out that there were 40,000 Turks living there. Well, there were six million in Ankara, and he still bumped into a friend at our wedding.
Yes, weirdness, indeed. We have never been in control of anything. All my own best laid plans came to nought. Life is just strange like that. Signs on the horizons and within ourselves.