Last week I had the glorious experience of reconnecting with a childhood friend. She sat with me in Miss O'Shea's class. She stood in line as Miss O'Shea put lipstick on our lips for the May Day Celebration. The one that led to the consternation of my mother at my being unchristian because I had make-up on... Peering through the black bars of the school fence, she glared as I danced around the May Pole with lipstick. I loved Miss O'Shea and yet it was the year of such horror.
I imagine she was one that I would hope would accompany me to the girls bathroom in the basement of the school. Always sent in pairs, one would raise their hand and be excused; the other would volunteer to go with you. That meant a time to chat and giggle. Later, she and I would walk together to PS 220 John J. Pershing Junior High School. Of all my childhood school memories, Pershing was the best.
It's odd the things you think about when you reconnect. Little tiny snippets of your life come alive in your mind. Such were my thoughts about the folded paper fortunes. I am not talking about the one that starts with a square, folded, you use your thumb and index finger to manipulate - I still fold those at restaurants when I fidget before my food is brought. I make them from a piece of the paper ring that secured my napkin. No, these were different.
You started off with a paper of loose leaf paper. Loose leaf paper was ripped from your loose leaf - also known a 3-ring binder. You carefully folded it into quarters. Then the questions began. Who will you marry? Four names were offered. How many children will you have? Where will you live? What will you name your first girl? What will you name your first boy? Each time you'd give four responses.
Now your fortune could be told. Pick a number, any number, from one to ten. I pick 5.
Now the count down began. One, two, three, four, five - number five was scratched off. This process was repeated over and over again until all but one response to each question was scratched off. Here was your fortune:
My fate was sealed. I would marry Stephen, have three children, live in Long Island, be clerk, have a daughter named Cindy Anne and a boy named Michael Peter. I probably actually had a fortune that read identical to that... I never thought my life would be beyond the greater NY area or that I would have anything but a Cindy or a Michael.
As my childhood friend, like others before her, shared how her life turned out - very good I might add :). And I shared how my life turned out - pretty good too, I thought of those folded paper fortunes. I thought of how we dreamed of our lives in Brooklyn. Now so far away in time and space, we can look back. No Cindy's or Michael's for me. Never lived in the greater NY area as an adult. No Stephens in my life and the 3 children, became 8 wonderful kids.
Life never seems to go as we plan it to but usually it comes out better if we just keep moving. As I look back at the girl standing between the boys in Miss O'Shea's class, I want to warn her of so many things. I want to tell her that in a short while she is going to violated and it will never be the same. I want to tell her that her life will get rough and rocky and she loose hope. I also want to tell her that Jesus will be with her the whole time and in time, she'll recover. She will raise a beautiful family and while never perfect, live happily ever after.