this is true
Once upon a time, in my early 20s, I lived in Boston. I had a roommate, a girl I’d known in college whose friendship was warm but fleeting, and we were running an errand together. It was the middle of the day, but for some reason – I don’t remember why – we got off the T and went into a bar.
In my memory, the bar was empty except for the bartender and one young, brown-haired woman sitting in front of him, but I don’t know if it really was. I also remember her honing in on us right away, but I don’t know if that’s true either. What I am sure about is that she started the conversation.
At first, it was benign – small talk – and then she halted and looked up at me with an amused smile.
“Deja vu,” she said, confusing my roommate, and then, still holding my eyes, “No, not me. You. You just had Deja vu, didn’t you.”
It wasn’t a question, and she wasn’t wrong.
My acknowledgment opened a floodgate and we had a long, intense conversation about death and past lives and the soul. This was the year of (or after) 9/11, and she said that it was a terrible, terrible thing, but we should be comforted by the fact that everyone who’d been lost had signed up for their fate. She said none of us felt any pain or sorrow we hadn’t already agreed to before our births.
It was an outrageously shocking thing to hear someone say aloud when the country was still angry and in mourning, but she said it with such conviction and peace.
It was a fascinating conversation. I think of it whenever I hear about a tragedy or a death. I wonder, if that’s the way it works, what else is in store for me? What did I agree to?