By Coincidence

Today I met an old acquaintance.  I was out shopping for some new clothes and accessories just like any ordinary 21 years old girl would. I was looking at a shirt that I’ve been wanting for some times now and it was on sale. Then I heard a familiar voice, she was this time not calling for her boyfriend, mom, dad, sisters, brothers, nor friends. She was calling for her baby boy and baby girl. Standing from a far, I didn’t know if I should approach her because usually I just pretend that I didn’t see them or just wave; however, there was something today that  made me approach her. So, I yelled out her name and waved at her. Surprisingly, she heard me and also waved back. Since neither of us ate lunch, we decided to grab something together at nearby Chinese restaurant and catch up in life. I was far most surprised to see how much she changed since she left and got married ever since junior year of high school. This girl that was sitting in front of me at lunch used to not sit with me in high school. We would just walk past by with nice greetings to be polite. And this girl that used to not like me, and I the same as well, was asking me about my past four years and trying to caught up with me? That was so not the girl that I used to know. In my mind, I kept her frozen as her 17 years old self, up until today when I met her again. 

When I heard that she got married, I immediately thought “Well that’s a given.” Most Hmong girls get married at an early age usually 2 out 5 would get married during high school, 3 out of 5 right after high school and during college, and 4 out of 5 after four years of undergraduate. So, whenever I hear that so and so got married, I’m never that shocked. 

So, I asked her what she was doing and turns out she was shopping for her little boy and girl. Yes, she has two children. The boy is now five years old and the girl three years old. And so me being my curious self also asked about her husband. And it turns out they have been divorced for almost two years now. I was shocked. Totally shocked that I didn’t know where to look, but I kept asking her more questions. You see it looks I’ve missed out a lot on social networking and I’m not going to lied I did and I still do. For me it’s hard to keep up with my bunch of my friends. Now, I didn’t ask about her divorce because I wasn’t that much interested and besides I can just look it up on Facebook or asked some friends. I pretty asked about what she’s doing now, her kids and the pretty basic stuff. It was an awkward conversation for me. 

She then asked me if I remember that one day when she suddenly Facebook messaged me, asking me this question “To abort or to not abort?” Even I still remember that question, it was just so out of the blue from no where. And how am I supposed to answer that question then? I was just beginning my college freshmen year. I told her I still remember and she asked me if I remember what I replied. So, I told her “not really it’s been so long.” She laugh at my response and told me that I bluntly just responded “To be or not to be.” I slowly began to remember the Facebook conversation because I know for sure that she responded “I really need your help and advice” and I saw that and responded “To do or not to do. It’s your choice. Why should my opinion matter?”  I told her that at that time I was in the middle of preparing for my midterm exams and because it was so out of blue, I thought she was messing around on Facebook like everyone else was. 

She told me that at that point she was pregnant with her little girl, but because she felt like her marriage wouldn’t go on and it could break at any moment many of her friends told her to get an abortion. Almost everyone who knew her, including those from high school, all gave their opinions on Facebook because she posted the same thing “Abort or No?” on her status. Being my usual self I told her that I saw her status and read through all the comments, but at the end I just logged off after reading the last comment and spending thirty minutes to read through every single comments. And so a few days later she decided to email a few us that haven’t commented on her status, and I was one of those few. However, unlike the clear answers she received mine just sounded like I was just bored. And I admitted to her I couldn’t care the very least about her life problems, but I was just trying to  be polite. And at the end she kept her baby girl.

So, we both left our separate ways after exchanging numbers as a token of kindness. And I didn’t bought anything from the mall again for the third time in a row. I sort of forgotten about meeting her for a while until my little sister was looking for some paint, and I told her where I put it, but she couldn’t find it. I had to go and get it for her and then I saw my middle school year books. And I love going through year books, so I went through all three of them, one for each grade level, and I was reading the autographs and comments that everyone signed. And today, it was her autographs that caught my attention the most. She would always signed mine inside of the spine (you know where all the pages are binded together), that was always her spot because she told me to leave that spot for her and I did for three years straight. 

Her autograph from 6th grade:

“Mai Kou! I’m so glad to have met you this year. You’re an awesome friend, don’t ever change! I hope we’ll be in the same classes next year. I’ll miss you so much over summer. Don’t forget to write me emails. Love you!”

Her autograph from 7th grade:

“I’m so sad that art was our only class together for the entire year. Even our class’ lunch time is different. That’s lame! Anyway, I love how you’re still the same old you! You give me so much support this year. Make sure to send me emails and see you in 8th grade.”

Her autograph from 8th grade, and the last one:

“OMG, we’re going to be in high school next year! Do you think we’ll be in the same classes together? I hope we do. 8th grade was so much fun this year even though we weren’t in the same class teams, but at least we still saw each other during recess and played together. I’m so excited yet so nervous about high school. What about you? I’m sure you’ll do fine since you have nothing to fear. Well, my best buddy make sure to send me emails and I mean it. You hardly send me any emails and I send you like tons of them. I hope we’ll be best friends together even after high school, after college, after marriage, and after we become great grandmothers. Love you! PS. Don’t ever change because I like you just the way you are.”

And you know we drifted apart in high school like really bad. We would be in the same homeroom, but never talked to each other. We only say hi once in a while and leave. They say in middle school is when kids start to identify themselves, I don’t think that was our case. Most of the students I went to school with, we begin to identify who we want to be with and liked during high school years. High school years was sensitive to some of us.  However, looking over her autographs from years ago I realized I changed some and I realized she really changed. She has now become a mother of two.

After we drifted apart, I thought to myself that we met by coincidence on that day during 6th grade when I decided to sit her and her friends at lunch instead with my friends. And then later asking her to be  my science lab partner. And now is it by coincidence that I finally met her again as a mother of two? 

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