Friday, April 13th was full of unexpected gifts if you consider a question mark as a gift.
First, of course, we had the deadline to meet. In fact, it was met the night before, April 12th at 10 PM when Wendy burned a DVD of the film’s very rough assembly that we were going to submit to IFP Labs. We had to watch it before delivering, to make sure there were no glitches.
– I am so tired, – Wendy said. – My eyeballs will fall out if I have to see one more thing tonight.
She had been staring at the iMac for 12 hours straight.
– Rashidah has fresh eyes, – I said.
Rashidah had wisely left at 6 PM that night to keep sharp for the next work day.
– Lets watch the DVD tomorrow morning with her. Maybe she sees glitches we can’t see.
Rashidah arrived at 10 AM the next day with something else on her mind.
– What had happened to Lisa Crafts? – she asked, looking concerned.
Lisa Crafts used to be Rashida’s teacher at Pratt, she also happens to be my friend.
– Why? – I asked, getting concerned too.
– Everybody is congratulating her on Facebook.
– It’s a good thing then, – I was relieved.
– Yes, but what is it?!
Curiosity is the invisible driving force of TV shows, Facebook gossip and cats. No time for that on this deadline day.
– Lets watch the DVD before the day is over, – I said and put the DVD into the iMac slot.
We watched the 60 minutes of the rough assembly and none of us saw any major technical glitches.
We kissed the DVD good luck, then I packed the DVD into a case, put the case into an envelope, put the envelope into a purple fabric bag and put the bag on my shoulder.
– I am off.
– Break a leg, – Wendy and Rashidah said raising their heads from computer screens. They were already immersed in the next stage of the production.
I walked to the subway and descended into Confusion. First, I just missed the closing doors of an R train because I thought I needed N train . Then no train came for a long time during which I investigated the subway map and discovered that I did need R train after all. R train arrived after a long wait and when I sat down I got into No Thoughts Zone, you know, the one where you pick your nose and rub your knee but not a single tiny fly buzzes inside the head. I don’t know why at some moment I arbitrarily decided to get off the train. It was one stop before the stop I was supposed to get off.
– Ah, shacks!
I was disappointed at my lapse of intelligence.
– I’ll walk, – I decided. I do have a need to be in a constant motion so I prefer 10 min walk over 9 min wait.
I walked out of the subway into The Brooklyn’s No Man’s Land, which is the land of Metro Tech.
People who don’t live there were out on a lunch break. The people who live there were laying on sidewalks asking for spare change. I found Jay street and took North direction. While crossing Tillary street it crossed my mind to get a bottle of water, it was a warm day and my body was losing a great deal of it’s precious humidity.
– This plastic bottle? or that plastic bottle? – I pondered over the choices of water in a grocery store. – Glass bottle!
I paid, I walked out.
There, on Tillary, on their red light were standing a couple of bicyclists. One of them looked joyfully familiar. The light was about to change. My brain was grasping for the name but there was no time to grasp and call it. I run over to the bicyclist and stood in front of him blocking his way. The name finally came to me.
– Ken, – I said. – What happened to Lisa?
Because the bicyclist was Lisa Crafts husband Ken Brown.
Ken looked at me as it was a perfectly normal to see me in Brooklyn on cross of Tillary and Jay.
– How do you know? – he asked slowly and suspiciously.
– The Facebook is abuzz!
– She got Guggenheim, – he said and looked for the light that was about to change back to red.
There was just one second between his sentence and mine, but the feeling inside my personal second would be complicated to describe. It was like a balloon simultaneously getting deflated and inflated.
– Wow! This is great! – I said with an uplift. – Congratulations!
– Yep, – Ken said and pushed off to catch his green light. – Pretty amazing.
– Tell Lisa I am happy for her!
Excitement and joy was lifting me up. I was happy for Lisa. I think she is brilliant and will do great things with the support of Guggenheim Fellowship.
I turned back onto Jay street and continued on.
Yet there was another part of me that was stung, as Lisa’s success pointed out at my failure. I applied for Guggenheim twice and I didn’t get it twice. I know it’s all a lottery, a chance. Like the improbable chance for me to run into Ken in the brief 30 second window of changing traffic lights of Tillary street. What were the odds of that meeting? What if I caught the first R train that came? What if I didn’t make the mistake of getting off at the wrong stop? What if I didn’t walk? What if choosing the right water bottle took longer? or shorter? I would have missed Ken and would not have found out about Lisa’s success. And this finding out fit too perfectly in the fabric of the day. Rashidah had mentioned Lisa earlier. I run into her husband later. I find out she got a Fellowship while I am on my way to submit my work for consideration. Doesn’t this have a hint? A deeper meaning?
And, if it does have a meaning, what is it?
The part of my Brain that is in charge of Beliefs and Superstitions created two scenarios of the possible message Universe was sending me by this “chance” encounter:
1) it means my project will get support from IFP Labs
2) it is a reminder that I will fail while others will always succeed
I arrived at my destination completely depleted by conflicting excitements. The package with the DVD was accepted with a slight nod (where were the hurrays, bells and orchestra? for two weeks we worked our assess off to get just a nod?) and 2 minutes later I was back on Jay street.
The part of the Brain that is in charge of Reason, the Moderator, saw the mental exhaustion I was in and took over.
– You want meaning? – it said. – Here’s the news for you: it has no meaning. Everybody exists in their own world, they cross your path by pure chance. Rashidah mentioned Lisa because of something she saw in her world. Lisa’s husband was on his way to somewhere else, to do the thing of his world. It happens because it happens. It is you who is trying to connect the dots and give a meaning to a meaningless encounter.
– But it is April 13th, – I feebly protested. – Friday. It means something.
– It does not. Engrave that on your brain.
To preserve my Mental Energy for my Project, I pretended to agree with the Moderator.
But when I see the stars move through the sky systematically and in perfect order I have a hard time to accept that we, humans, move and encounter each other randomly, completely without order or meaning. For me, a life without a message from Universe would be quite boring.
PS of course, it was very courageous and European of us to submit the work for cosideration on Friday the 13th