I started thinking last night - no idea why - about two encounters that have become linked in my mind. It's funny the connections you make: A leads to B because of C and, suddenly, you can't think of one without the other. Both these encounters coincided with a 'big day' in my life and both of them involved creatures not normally associated with warm, fuzzy cuddles.
Firstly, there was the night before I went off to Lincoln for my first year at university. I was on edge, especially having just said goodbye to my grandmother (a farewell that would trigger, unfortunately, a rather bad stream of events culminating in her death but that's for another day), and I was sat at my laptop dawdling and putting off going to sleep. I had a high bed in those days, with a desk underneath and a 'bedside' table next to the desk with a purple lamp on it.
Then, suddenly, the lamp started buzzing. I was a little slow off the mark but quickly came to my senses when the wasp buzzed out of the lamp and headed in my general direction. I jumped up, knocking over my can of Coke onto the lampshade and bedside table, and panicked. My inclination was to run away but there was nowhere to run. My dad was asleep and I sort of had to stay in that room. My only option was to catch it and put it out. I think it got killed in the process but that was by accident, not design. When I woke up the next morning I thought I'd dreamed it but, nope, there were the Coke stains on my lamp to prove it. Incidentally, I didn't have time to clean up before I left so there they stayed for two weeks until I came home for a spontaneous weekend.
The second incident happened three years later on the morning of my first day at a company in the North East which shall remain nameless. It's enough to know that they were based in Stockton and I was living in Darlington. I set off ridiculously early to make sure I got an earlier train and just as I was walking down from the town centre towards the railway station something glistened in the dawning light ahead of me. Almost hidden on the bridge on my right there was something scurrying above the water line. A big something. It was the size of an overfed cat but, having had rats as pets, I knew exactly what it was. It looked particularly menacing bathed in orange light. I'll be honest, I didn't want to pass that spot for a few moments and I lingered until I finally realised I'd miss my train if I didn't get on.
These encounters aren't linked apart from the fact they were chance meetings with unexpected creatures and they happened prior to big events in my life. But, with hindsight, it's difficult not to see them as omens of some kind. My first year of uni was...tricky and I made some daft decisions and wrote some dafter essays. That job proved to be a blessing and a curse - it gave me friendship (like my old pet rat Norman did) but it was the place my shyness became an acute problem.
The trouble with us human beings is that we seek meaning in everything. That's probably increased tenfold in writers and avid readers. Everything has to mean something, otherwise what's the point of anything? Unfortunately, that's a question I return to time and again.