For my writing course this morning I had to describe fifteen important minutes of my life. Tricky. I mean, I suppose they had to be minutes in my life, not just minutes that affected my life, because otherwise I'd have been duty-bound to envision my own conception, which is really not something anyone wants to have to put any amount of imaginative thought into. And they had to be minutes that were important to my life, not someone else's - because who knows if something I said offhandedly in a supermarket queue or at a playdate or online had a deep and lasting effect on someone else's life? I mean, it's unlikely, but not impossible.
So I had to come up with a fifteen-minute episode that made a difference to my life. There are the birth stories, of course, but I've already written those. And the thing is, once the baby's in there it has to come out one way or another, so while the births were great and life-affirming, they didn't really change things. Finally, although it's the epitome of cheese and terribly obvious, I found I had to go back to that house party in 1993 when I calculatedly but nonchalantly wandered into the kitchen after the boy who'd gone looking for a corkscrew, because I thought he was cute.
I won't give you the blow-by-blow account here, but it was probably a pivotal moment. It's possible that the same moment could have come later, or earlier, since we had a mutual good friend and would probably have encountered each other again if we hadn't that day - if I hadn't gone to the party, or he'd chatted up the Australian girl for a few more minutes, or he'd been wearing the sweater with the duck, for instance - but that's how it happened.
There were probably lots of other important moments or sets of moments: when we broke up (numerous times), when we got back together (numerous times +1), when I filled in the visa application form, when some random-number-generator or bikini-clad lady pulled my application number out of the hundreds of others, when we dated other people and found them not measuring up to previously set high standards. But the fact stands that if things had gone differently that evening in Rathmines, I very easily might not be sitting here, emigrant, immigrant, runner's wife, mother of these two particular amazing/appalling children. I might be writing somewhere, wherever, but that's about the only thing that would be the same.
I don't think I have to mention, do I, that I'm pretty happy with the way it has turned out so far?