Thursday, July 9, 2009

Starbucks and Supposed-to-Be

I've been trying to cut back on my Starbucks addiction lately, figuring my body didn't need the sugar and my wallet didn't need the ever-more-substantial dent. Today, though, after spending my day (mostly) at home doing everything but writing, I decided that a change of scenery might be in order. So I dropped my daughter off at a birthday party and headed to Starbucks "for 45 minutes" so I'd be home in time to make dinner for my husband.

I sat down with my iced chai latte, thinking I'd work on the discussion questions for my summer course, but when I re-awoke my laptop, what came up on the screen was the chapter of my novel that I'd been working on yesterday. Amazingly enough, I just began to type. I hadn't planned where the chapter would go next, but I just picked up where I'd left off and typed, not thinking too hard about any of it, just pressing forward...

...until I heard my name. A former student of mine, all grown-up, more beautiful than ever and professionally dressed (at 24) remembered and recognized me. I asked her what she was doing these days and she proceeded to share the last decade of her life with me. This wonderful girl and self-professed "good student" (and she was) had been through an awful, gut-wrenching thirteen years since I'd last seen her.

And she had come out on the other side of it. Ready to graduate in less than a year and in a serious, committed relationship, she had emerged from painful experiences no one should have to have. And she trusted me enough to tell me about it, even after all these years. I was incredibly honored, but even moreso, incredibly happy for her as she looks forward to a future that holds the happiness she deserves, particularly after all the pain she has gone through.

And I'm happy that I was at Starbucks. I almost didn't go. My daughter had my cell phone, leaving me out of contact unless I was at home, but I decided that a 45 minute trip to Starbucks would be okay. Apparently I was right.

I remember a forwarded e-mail that has gone through my box several times - the one about the people who survived September 11 because of a change in routine that morning that put them somewhere else at the horrific moment when the planes flew into the Twin Towers. I think of it often when my trip somewhere is delayed or I end up in a situation like today's. While my being at Starbucks to talk to this young lady is not as monumental, I do believe I was where I was supposed to be. Like those people in New York, I almost wasn't there, but then I was there, exactly where I was supposed to be.

I believe in divine intervention. I believe that God has a plan. And although I don't know the full extent of that plan, I know unquestionably that I was supposed to be at Starbucks this afternoon, and that I will say a prayer for my all-grown-up student - a prayer that God's plan for her includes the happiness she has earned.

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