Destined to Marry the Cute Bartender


I’ve been considering lots about multiverse principle, the concept that there are infinite universes operating parallel to our personal the place we’re enjoying out our infinite lives.

Remember the 1998 movie “Sliding Doors”? Gwyneth Paltrow rushes to catch a practice in London after being fired from her job. In one universe, she makes the practice and will get dwelling early and finds her man in mattress with one other lady. In the different, she misses it, comes dwelling to her boyfriend alone, and stays with him to her personal detriment and despair.

The huge “What if?” What if I didn’t go to occasion in the fall of 1986, with my agent? What if I had not simply partaken of the free wine and cheese and as an alternative hobnobbed and made connections like I used to be supposed to? What if I hadn’t tried to go away early so I might go dancing with my highschool pals?

If none of these issues had occurred, my agent wouldn’t have mentioned to me, “You can’t leave without talking to at least one person you don’t know,” and I wouldn’t have mentioned, “O.K., I’ll talk to the bartender. He’s cute.”

And I wouldn’t have ended up 5 years later marrying mentioned bartender.

That was 31 years in the past. My husband remains to be cute, however he’s eternally reducing it too shut once we want to be someplace, which generally makes him much less cute in my eyes. I used to be interested by all of this as I used to be ready for him at the clock at Grand Central Terminal a couple of months in the past. We had been heading to a fund-raiser at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

I used to meet individuals at that clock whereas I used to be rising up. The Grand Central of my youth was nothing like the Grand Central of now, which is vibrant and gleaming, full of fine eating places and bars and outlets. My Grand Central was filthy, harmful, dwelling to pickpockets and thieves and drug addicts.

My junior highschool was two blocks away, on the 40th flooring of an workplace constructing. When lessons had been over, my greatest good friend, Melissa, and I’d run round Grand Central shopping for greeting playing cards, getting free samples of coconut patties at slightly chocolate store, skirting perverts.

I liked Melissa then, and I like her now. She’s like a sister to me. What would have occurred if one in every of us had tousled the bubbles on the entrance examination to Hunter College High School? Where would I be now with out her?

I checked out my iPhone and texted my husband: “Where are you?”

No reply.

Bored, I walked round the clock, which can be an octagonal info heart. Was my husband oblivious sufficient to be standing on the different facet? I used to stand on that facet in highschool, ready for my boyfriend to come down from Inwood. We had been each so skinny again then that once we hugged, our hipbones would grind.

We went out for a very long time earlier than he lastly dumped me throughout my sophomore 12 months of faculty. Waiting for my husband, I began to get that buzzy feeling I generally get once I’m touring, as if perhaps I used to be going to stumble upon any individual I used to know.

Could or not it’s that outdated boyfriend? I doubted it. He lives in Florida, and somebody not too long ago instructed me he has six grandchildren.

We went to highschool in the Bronx. When I used to be younger, we used to go to the New York Botanical Garden on subject journeys, which again then appeared like a jaunt to the nation. One of my shut pals was raped there one afternoon after class let loose.

Would which have occurred if any of her classmates had caught round, too? Or made her come to the doughnut store? I assumed lots about this again then, the missed alternative to save her. And I give it some thought now, how horrible it was and the way offended I nonetheless am that somebody did that to her.

Back in highschool, I considered plenty of issues, however not about at some point taking the practice to a flowery fund-raiser. I wrote poetry (that I by no means confirmed anybody) however by no means dreamed I’d develop up to be a author. When I used to be 17, I assumed it was attainable I’d marry my highschool boyfriend.

I checked out my telephone. My husband had texted: “I’m running late. Had to take a call. If I don’t make the 5:40 u can go without me.”

“O.K.,” I replied. But I used to be offended.

When our kids had been small and I had obscure concepts about the significance of household dinner, he would name and say, “I’m leaving work now.” And then he wouldn’t arrive for hours.

As I began strolling towards the observe, I assumed perhaps if I hadn’t gone up to him that evening at the occasion so a few years in the past, I’d be married to a person who not solely was on time for this practice but in addition had already purchased the tickets. I began to stew. I considered his youthful sister’s marriage ceremony 25 years earlier, when he got here again from his run sweaty simply as we, all dressed up, had been leaving for the church.

As I boarded the practice, I checked my telephone once more. A textual content from him: “I’m on the shuttle from Times Square. If I make it, I’ll go straight to train and try to find u.”

“KK,” I wrote. “Just get on we’ll find each other when we get off.”

But I assumed: “He’s going to miss it.”

I sat again in my seat, questioning who could be at the occasion. Would the thriller particular person I felt destined to run into be somebody I didn’t anticipate to see that evening?

And then I questioned what would have occurred if I had taken that West Coast fellowship I had utilized for earlier than I met my future husband however was promised to me after I fell in love with him.

By that point, I used to be too blissful the place I used to be, in New York City, with him, temping and being a fledgling author. Still, perhaps if I had taken that friendship I’d be dwelling in San Francisco now, having a picnic lunch down at the seaside, watching whales spout and ingesting native white wine straight from the half bottle.

The doorways on the practice closed. I gazed at some man sitting a number of rows away, dealing with me: graying, form of cute, the proper age. What would have occurred if I had married this man? Would I’ve a home and a canine and dwell in Larchmont?

I took out my telephone. The practice was transferring. I used to be going to textual content my husband and let him off the hook, inform him to flip round and go dwelling. He was simply sweetly holding me firm anyway.

But he had already written: “Made it! What car you on?”

“How you,” I typed.

I meant: How like him to make it by the pores and skin of his tooth. As he had at his sister’s marriage ceremony. Then I remembered strolling down the aisle holding the hand of my little niece, as a result of her mom was maid of honor, my little niece who’s now all grown up and engaged to be married herself. I remembered turning, earlier than I sat down along with her in the entrance pew, to look towards the church doorways to see if my husband had lastly arrived.

He is the oldest of 4. Their father was useless, and my husband was supposed to escort his sister down the aisle. I felt such reduction once I noticed the two of them emerge from the doorway, my sister-in-law attractive in her robe and my husband slightly geeky in his tuxedo, his hair nonetheless moist from his bathe.

Then I regarded up to see what automobile I used to be in, as my husband had requested me to, so I might write and inform him, and there was my very personal husband sitting immediately throughout the aisle from me. He was gazing his telephone, ready for my response. He didn’t even know I used to be there.

And he regarded so good-looking! Uncharacteristically carrying a jacket and tie, as a result of we had been going to a flowery occasion, anticipation on his face.

I took a second to savor it, his silver, close-cropped hair, the eagerness of his expression as he waited for my textual content — the triumph of as soon as once more making it simply in time!

And I spotted: This is the particular person I used to be destined to run into at present, and likewise 31 years in the past, and repeatedly, on this multiverse and hopefully all the others.

“I’m right next to you,” I typed.

Startled, then smiling, he regarded up.


Helen Schulman lives in New York City. Her newest novel is “Come With Me,” published this month.

Modern Love can be reached at modernlove@nytimes.com.

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