In grade 8, my English class had to read Romeo and Juliet, then for extra credit Mr. Huesken had us act out all the parts. As fate (or perhaps my status as teacher’s pet) would have it, I was Juliet. A few of the other girls were jealous, but I had a bit of a different take. At lunch time one day, I told Mr. Huesken that I thought Juliet was stupid. She gets herself stuck on the one guy she knows she can’t be with and then accuses fate of being the culprit. Mr. Huesken pointed out that when fate comes into play, choice sometimes goes down the drain. But at the omniscient age of 12 I was certain that love, like life, is about making choices. Fate had nothing to do with it.
I told Mr. Huesken that when I grew up, I’d take fate into my own hands. I wouldn’t let a guy drag me down.
A year later, I fell in love for the first time. It was probably akin to the immature kind of love that Romeo and Juliet (two 17-year-olds) were to have experienced. I had never felt so consumed with emotion. It was both euphoric and terrifying. And when he broke up with me (because I was taller than him), I did feel like dying.
And by 16, I’d lost all of the confidence and assuredness of my pre-teens. I thought that if I didn’t choose the first person who gave me attention, I’d be alone forever. And we all know where that landed me—in a neglectful, painful, empty marriage.
After my divorce, though, the confidence with which I spoke at 12 reappeared, and I began making choices based on what I wanted. I had stood up for myself and changed the whole course of my life in the face of very scary consequences and so I adopted, once again, the opinion and attitude that I would take fate into my own hands, and I would never again let a guy drag me down.
Now, you can call it destiny, providence, chance, luck, or serendipity; blame it on god or the stars, but as fate would have it, life would do a full 360 and bring me back into the arms of my very first love (side note: he got taller ;)).
So maybe Romeo and Juliet were fated to be together, but just for awhile. And then their time passed. Perhaps if they’d known that beforehand, things would have turned out differently.
And still, even now, I think that for the most part, love is about choices. It’s about evaluating the circumstances, about dropping the dagger, forgoing the poison and making a happy ending that reflects your unique, personal wants and desires. Most of the time.
And that sometimes despite everything else, fate wins out anyway.