She wore a hooded towel and the summer glowed in her blonde hair. Cupid shot me with his arrow when I first saw her smile. Her name was Chantel, it was the summer of 2000 at Clearwater Lake, and I was ten.
One day Chantel, her brother and I played a game in the lake where we would see how many times we could squat down under the water and jump out without stopping. She closed her eyes while under water, I kept mine open. I made sure I won. I was a showoff. Afterwards we frolicked around on the playground. It was one of the nicest afternoons of my childhood. That evening my mom and dad closed up the cabin and we left. I wouldn’t return until next summer.
I would pray almost every night to see her again. Those prayers were answered next summer. However, I no longer had the courage to talk to her. She was beautiful and I was just a scrawny, awkward kid. I spent the next few summers wishing she’d notice me again.
Things changed in the summer of ’05. I had made a few friends that year, one of them her brother. I liked going to his cabin because there would always be an opportunity for me to see Chantel. One day while playing PS2 with Kody, or more so watching him play, Chantel stormed into the living room demanding help beating a level in Super Mario World.
Holy. Shit. She has a Super Nintendo!? She’s playing Super Mario World!?
Before I could process what was happening I had sprung to my feet and gladly volunteered to help. We spent a majority of that summer playing Super Nintendo and listening to angsty music that we both also happened to be into.
When it wasn’t summer, we built our friendship on MSN, email, letters, and telephone calls. We would talk for hours without noticing the time passing.
When I graduated in the summer of ’08 we had started to grow apart. In the fall I moved to Saskatoon for University but we both got into separate long term relationships. For the next six years our interactions were limited.
We reconnected this summer, nearly 15 years since I first saw her. We still lose track of time when we talk to each other. Her smile stills fills me with joy. I’m 15 and playing Super Nintendo again.
“Goodnight, I love you.” We say to each other before I roll over against the wall, trying to give her as much space on the bed as I can.
I feel like the luckiest person alive. Unfortunately, luck always runs out. No matter how improbable, I always worry about losing the people I love. I can derive the logic to make it the probable and likely outcome. I convince myself of it.
While I can persuade myself that negative events have a higher probability of happening than they actually do, I can’t deny the improbability of the most important things in my life. It boggles my mind the number of things that had to happen for Chantel and I to be where we are today. What if my parents never bought me a Super Nintendo? If I never went to Clearwater? If I didn’t get her MSN address? If I didn’t stay in Saskatoon all these years? Those are just the obvious ones, the list is endless. Focusing on this instead of all the reasons that things could go wrong makes me feel better.
If I focus on loss I can’t appreciate what I have. I start to worry about losing something instead of enjoying and improving it. I make it more likely to lose. I create my own bad luck.
I create good luck by being grateful and treating the people in my life like the lucky multi-million dollar winning lottery ticket they are. This exercise of thinking about how improbable it is to spend time with someone like Chantel makes me all the more grateful. It motivates me to be the best person I can be.
Still, at times, it can be a struggle. It’s hard to be patient, content, and not worry about it coming to an end somehow. One day I’ll run out of luck but that won’t matter. Luck isn’t the reason for the wonderful people in my life. It’s something greater, something endless.