I bought a Golden Gate Bridge keychain last night after my flight got seriously delayed and I was stuck at San Francisco airport. I was extremely upset about it at the time, as I had been away for five days and really wanted to get home to my young daughter. What it did give me was leisurely time to walk around SFO, where I found this little keychain that reminded me so much of Tim that I decided to bring it home with me.
This morning, as I was unpacking everything, I found the keychain and decided to put it on my car key. I actually hesitated, wondering if I should put it on my work key instead, since I see that more. I have touch-entry in my car, so I actually almost never physically touch my car key or look at it. It lives in a pouch in my purse all the time.
In the end I shrugged and kept it where it was.
Today my husband came home and suggested we go to Santa Monica. We walked around, popped in some of the shops, and decided to go to a restaurant we’d really loved visiting during his birthday last year. Upon reaching the doors, however, we saw it was closed. The sign on the door mentioned two other locations, one of which was pretty close by.
I goaded my husband into driving us to the other location, even though he wasn’t excited about it and tried to convince me to consider other options. I was really in the mood for this particular place, though, and eventually he gave in to me.
Reaching the other neighborhood in LA, we were dismayed to only find 30 minute parking everywhere we looked.
“Give me your keys now,” he sighed, “‘cause I’m gonna need to move the car a bunch of times.”
The restaurant was completely full inside and empty outside, but it was cold outside and even with the heaters on, I didn’t want to sit out there. The hostess informed us that a table had just paid and would probably leave soon. They most definitely did not leave soon.
After waiting fifteen unsuccessful minutes for the table to open up, my daughter was starting to lose her mind from hunger (anyone with a three year-old knows what a precarious situation this is), and we finally agreed to sit outside. Before we knew it, the first 30 minutes were up and my husband moved the car.
He returned and set the keys on the table. Seeing the new addition, my daughter perked up and asked to play with the “Golden Gate Bwidge.” Willing to do anything to help avoid a hunger meltdown, I handed it to her.
Some minutes later, a woman tapped on the window from inside the restaurant. She was sitting at the table we’d agitatedly been waiting for. Smiling, she held up her own keys, and she had a very similar Golden Gate Bridge keychain on her own keys! I was surprised to say the least — it’s a very specific keychain, and I’d never seen one like it before. I mouthed “I just bought mine yesterday,” but she seemed unable to read my lips.
Finally, a different table vacated, and we were seated inside. We finished our meal, and the GGB woman was still at her table. (Good thing we hadn’t waited for it!) I’m sure my husband thought I was entirely crazy, but I felt like I just had to talk to her. I got up with my keys and went to her table.
“I just bought it yesterday!” I told her. “I had a layover at SFO. My brother painted me the Golden Gate Bridge once, and it makes me think of him when I see it. Did you used to live there?”
She nodded. “Yes, for school.”
“Me too!” I said. “I went to Berkeley.”
“Oh my gosh, me too!” she said. We smiled at each other in awe.
It was only then that I took her keychain in my hand, and turned it over. Then I turned mine over.
They weren’t similar keychains.
They were the EXACT same keychain.
The whole way home, I thought about what this could mean, and the line of dominoes that brought me to that moment in time.
If I hadn’t been delayed at SFO, I never would have lingered in a souvenir shop and bought the keychain.
If I had actually decided to put the keychain on my work key instead of my car key.
If my husband hadn’t recommended Santa Monica.
If our favorite restaurant hadn’t been closed.
If I hadn’t been able to talk my husband into driving to the other location.
If there had been ample parking, instead of 30 minute parking.
If we’d been seated inside instead of outside.
My atheist husband, at the end of the night, had no reasonable explanation for it either.
Tonight, I texted my friend (whose mom also frequently reaches out from the other side), “When my brother sends signs, they are so much more complicated than I expect them to be. It makes denying them impossible. This sign took a whole twenty-four hours to play out.” And then I laughed as I typed, “Show off.”
Oh, and there’s one thing I forgot to mention.
When we walked in the restaurant, the basketball game on every TV was Lakers versus The Warriors.
Have you ever seen The Warriors’ team logo?
I see you, Tim. Thank you.