I’ve known God is hard of hearing ever since I asked for a spouse and the next day my cat gifted me with a mouse. There have been other garbled messages along the way:
“Send me a husband.” “I didn’t mean somebody else’s.”
“A partner?” “No, not at a law firm—at least not necessarily.”
“How about a mate?” “Damn, I already threw the other sock out.”
I got used to feeling like Lynn Redgrave in Georgy Girl bemoaning, “God always has another custard pie up His sleeve.”
Here’s what I learned:
Beshert may not be what you ordered.
For instance, once online I was matched with an English professor in Texas. A line in his profile struck me: “Jewish father, not observant.” Then: “Hometown: New York City.” I was starting to sense a discomforting familiarity. I thought, “NO. IT CAN’T BE.” But when I saw his birthday, I knew: the dating website had fixed me up with my graduate school boyfriend of 30 years before.
I sent him a message. And we both wondered, are we beshert?
Off we went for a literary reunion in Key West to see Ernest Hemingway’s house and the six-toed cats, something I’d always wanted to do. But for the second time in three decades, we weren’t beshert. And we won’t try again when we’re 80.
A different dating site sent me an adorable punim. And, he lived right across the street from me and had for years. I had never once run into this man in Starbucks or Safeway. We dated for six months, then went to Israel together. I had a fabulous time. When we got home, he told me he was polyamorous. There went beshert.
Again online, I met someone incredible. He worried about the distance; different cities. We wrote letters for three months and agreed to meet in person after the holidays. We were both going overseas; different continents. I looked forward to January.
Only, the second day of his trip, he was in a bar listening to music and a local girl walked by. And, for him, it was beshert. He wrote to me that she was the one. This was crazy—I lived only 600 miles from him, she lived 12,000. We agreed this development merited a phone call. “I can’t explain it,” he told me. “It makes no sense.”
But then we had a great conversation. We realized we’re already friends. And we’ve stayed friends. We wrote a book together on a medical issue he had conquered. He and his love are very happily married, living in his city.
Not a single romantic beshert in the bunch.
But like a plastic baby in a Mardi Gras King cake, there were besherts in those custard pies.
I had always wanted to see Hemingway’s house and the six-toed cats.
I went to Israel.
I worked with a dear friend on a book that helped people.
Each of these experiences fills me with gratitude and amazement.
I dreamed of certain outcomes. But it’s the ones I didn’t see coming that feel exactly right—beshert.
Pam Janis is Moment Magazine’s Beshert editor. She wanted to write this week’s column because coronavirus is terrifying, America has screeched to a standstill and remembering life’s most unexpected and wondrous besherts seems to help. Please share yours at firstname.lastname@example.org.