Many years ago my father-in-law relayed to me what he referred to as his Pal story. It popped into my head again this week for obvious reasons. Here it is:
He was a kid out on a field trip with his class. All of a sudden he sees his dog, Pal. Hey, that’s my dog, everyone! That’s my dog, Pal! he shouts to his teacher and classmates. He wants to run over to his dog, but his teacher is strict and forces him to remain in line. It was incredibly weird, he tells me, to see Pal while he was off on a field trip.
My father-in-law said that he was reminded of this childhood story by something that had just happened to him. He’d been driving along Lake Shore Drive when, in the midst of all the anonymous cars passing in the other direction, he saw his 16-year-old son. Oh my God, there’s my son! There he goes! he thought to himself as they whizzed by one another.
It was a quintessential Pal moment — being out in the universe, away from your home base, and then unexpectedly crossing paths with one of the key people (or pets) in your innermost circle. Or maybe it’s not even limited to living things. I am now remembering being on a walking architectural tour of Chicago about 20 years ago and finding our group not only on my street, but stopping in front of the very four-flat where I lived. Turns out the building had survived the Chicago Fire and was a landmark. I kept turning to the other people in my group, pointing, That’s my house! This is where I live! I had intentionally wandered away from home for the afternoon, and then to come across it again in these out-of-context conditions was startling and exhilarating.
Tomorrow wraps up “pal week.” I’m going to post that playlist tomorrow with a fun new online music program if you want to come back and grab it. Also: the comments around the “being alone” reflection on Tuesday are truly amazing. Thank you all so much for sharing.