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"I've seen this show before."

One of the many elements of this novel I've devoted myself to is that "history repeats itself." There are strange parallels throughout the story, and this is because they happened in my life. It began happening with such frequency that I developed the standard response of "I've seen this show before."

One example begins with the death of a mentor and friend in 1997. Mal played a key role in the years leading up to 1997, becoming one of two people who encouraged me to seek the path of adventure over the safe path of remaining a mail carrier in Massachusetts for the rest of my life. Mal was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 1997. He would marry his girlfriend of many years just before I moved and then passed on the Sunday night following Thanksgiving. The timing of his diagnosis (during my first trip to Orlando) and his death (after I moved and established contact with Tina) was another piece of the puzzle, but in 1999 I would meet another figure much like Mal in personality and approach to life. English Don was not a mentor to me, but to the fellow who became my closest friend during the early 2000s. In late 2000, he would be diagnosed with leukemia and had only months to live. His diagnosis and passing strangely coincided with my friend finding his way after struggling in the two years he'd known English Don.

A more amusing example starts with meeting my third fiancee in 1995. She decided that, although we were completely incompatible, we made the perfect couple because "we will always be the most beautiful people anywhere we go." That she looked like a model and turned every man's head was an ego boost. It ended in disaster. In January of 1997, I would be approached by another woman of similar beauty who asked me why we'd never dated because "we're like the king and queen of the prom, the most beautiful people here." This time I ducked before the shit hit the fan. So, this was an example of having a situation similar to one from the past and using what you learned from the first appearance of said situation and applying it to the second.

This is part of what I mean when I say that there is a map to your life. It is a lot like the outline of a novel you are creating. You see the connections, the story and character arcs, the development of the plot, so on and so forth, so why isn't that enough? No, you have to write the whole story because that is the only way it really makes sense. If we pay attention, the same situations happen again and again. In my life story, some of the "repeats" were obvious and some were just funny.

There were three times that women fought over me in the 1990s. The first time, I went home with the aggressor and that led to me having an obsessed stalker moving into my house and stalking me from inside the house. My former roommate had already done that, so this was another pattern, but two years later I would leave with the other woman, not the aggressor. That led to a nice evening. The third time, they were sisters, and I somehow ended up getting involved with both of them in very different ways. The appearance of these patterns was causing me to adapt, almost automatically, when the pattern appeared again.

Some patterns were very serious. For years I was haunted over an incident that happened in 1990. I was longing for female companionship after the horrific end of a long term relationship and it was the 21st birthday of one of the women in my social circle at the time. I'd always been fond of her, and that night she drank far too much out at the bar. She wanted to go home and no one offered to take her. Everyone wanted to stay until closing, as we always did. I offered to drive her home, but I didn't hide my desire to make the drive home more than just that. This was not something she was interested in and she ended up leaving and died when she drove into a bridge abutment on the way home. In 1999, Christina was demonstrating something to me that takes me an entire chapter of the book to explain, but part of it involved having me watch her drink three bottles of wine and then drive across town. I tried everything I could think of to convince her to let me take her to my place, which was three blocks away rather than on the other side of town as her place was, and made it clear I had no ulterior motive. A year later, a very ill-behaving and very drunk woman began hanging on me, wanting me to come home with her, and when I rejected her she told me she was going to drive home. I ended up driving her, but dumped her on the lawn after she told me she'd accidently given me directions to her armed and jealous boyfriend.

Six years later, I was renting a room from a female co-worker. She had an abusive ex who'd gone to prison for trying to kill her ten years earlier and while I was renting a room from her, he got out of prison. News of this sent my co-worker into a spiral. A recovering alcoholic who was ten years sober, she fell off the wagon hard. When he showed up, asking me angrily where his chain saws were, I moved out. The patterns repeat themselves. I've already seen this show.

All this ties into my belief that we create these narratives that become lives we lead in order to work shit out, kinks in our core divinity. If we mess up, or achieve an unsatisfactory result, the situation will appear again if we pay attention (or even if we don't). At times you could say I made the correct choice the first time and went crazy on the second appearance. In 1997, when a strange couple tried to pick me up at a bar, I said "no thanks." In 2000, a strange couple tried to pick me up in a bar, I went home with them, and learned they had a strange kink. She liked to ride a man while her boyfriend ignored her and watched hockey. I'm not sure there was a wrong choice, but I did play out both options.

And that is part of the meaning of life. Live out the narrative, find your outline and connect the dots. There is a map, but you can only see what is right in front of you before the fog obscures everything and leaves just shadows and light dancing in the mist, daring you to step forward and take the chance. Once you've put together enough pieces of the really complex novel that is your life, you start to see where it is all going because you are seeing more of the map and how everything connects. And then, like me, you go insane.

It isn't just patterns repeating that make up the map. The connections between everything become clearer. After English Don was diagnosed with leukemia and was hospitalized, I went with a couple co-workers to see him in the hospital. The nurse working the floor was Tina, who I'd been "guided" to Orlando to find. When I met her she was failing out of nursing school, suffered from low self-esteem, and later told me she believed she was purposely flunking because she was terrified of death and nursing would bring her in contact with that. She was working on the oncology floor with terminal patients.

Mal had encouraged me to follow my path and move to Orlando while others discouraged me. He told me he believed in me. English Don played a similar role in my friend's life a few years later. Both would have similar "death scenes" (and both would like me calling it that), but Mal was part of what led me to Tina after I helped her through nursing school by believing in her. Plus, can you imagine letting down someone who died and came back from the dead for you?

Christina believed in "perfect moments." We created one late at night in the parking lot in front of Chili's. We'd just been through a harrowing experience we laughed about. Christina's connection to me was one where she sought me out as a sort of mentor, as she was trying to understand an aspect of her own death experience. Both our lives following our death experiences were filled with harrowing experiences because we didn't sidestep them, we drove hard into them. There was a moment that night where the main road in front of us went quiet and there was no sign of life around us. We connected in a unique way in that moment, which blew us both away. After she said, "We achieved it, the perfect moment," and then ended our relationship. She not only believed in perfect moments, she believed in preserving them rather than ruining them. "Don't try to keep things past their expiration date." She had her own fear of getting emotionally wounded, and thus her real reason for avoiding reaching expiration dates, but what she said about perfect moments holds true for me to this day.

Give everything you can to everyone you know. You already know what to do.