Where to start the timeline? Several weeks ago I finished reading Lia Purpura's beautiful On Looking. In one section of one of the essays she writes about coincidences without ever using the word. She is cutting strawberries, thinking of her father, and so calls him. He is cutting strawberries, thinking of her, hand on the phone to call. She learns a new word in the morning and that afternoon in the dentist's office opens a magazine to a review of a book with this word for its title. She thinks of someone from long ago and that night reads her obituary in the newspaper. She suggests that a friend read the book The Gift and on the way home from meeting with that friend pulls up behind a car with the license plate "HYDE". (Lewis Hyde is the author of The Gift.)
When I read this I had just finished reading The Gift. I bought it in April, but it was first recommended to me last August. I bought it when I saw it on the shelf of a small indie bookstore I had taken a book-loving friend visiting from Oregon. The day I read this particular section, that friend posted a quote from The Gift on Facebook. Only a day or two before, I had told my sister about this book and how it might relate to my niece's experience in her semester in Egypt earlier this year. And I saw a car with a bumper sticker, "The Gift."
Weeks have passed, but just this morning I took out my pen to write this all down. I opened Purpura's book to find the described section. Where was it? I had been tired when I read this book and let myself just read and enjoy without making my characteristic notes and underlining, so now there was no guide to lead me to the spot. Only a single card was placed in page to mark an unrelated comment I wanted to retrieve. I thumbed through the book back to front. Front to back. I couldn't find it. You can guess what's coming. I finally opened to the page marked by the card to read again the unrelated comment I was saving. There at toward the bottom of that page, "I am cutting strawberries and thinking of my father…" and the stream of coincidences continue.
"Gifts--given or received--stand witness to meaning beyond the known, and gift exchange is therefore a transcendent commerce, the economy of re-creation, conversion, or renaissance. It brings us worlds we have not seen before." (Lewis Hyde, The Gift)