At the start of each decade of my adult life, I've had a moment when everything changed.
Of course, I can identify these moments only in retrospect. Usually, they involve a combination of choice and serendipity.
At twenty, I accepted a college friend's offer of a double date. To put it plainly: a blind date. I would be paired with with some friend of her boyfriend. Why not, I figured. Nothing to lose. My date was a cute guy from New York, a little shy, and very earnest. And it turned out we'd shared a class the previous semester. I was immediately taken with him. But I certainly wouldn't have guessed that we would be married just over a year later.
At thirty, I finally finished my Ph.D. That cute guy from New York and I celebrated with a six week trip through Canada. We had another travel companion, as it turned out. On the morning of our departure, we learned that another "project" had come to fruition. I was happily pregnant with our first child.
At forty, he took me on a fateful birthday trip to New Orleans. On a whim, I signed us up for a swamp tour and heard some Cajun music. Accordions started to infiltrate my dreams. That trip turned me into a musician, and eventually into a writer.
At fifty, I decided to sign up for a creative writing class. I'd been thinking about it for a few years and decided it was time to stop putting things off. I enrolled in a creative nonfiction class at the UC-Berkeley extension and met the woman who would become my writing mentor. She believed I had a book in me. Eventually, I listened to her.
It certainly seems like a pattern.
Now I'm into the next decade and waiting for something. A sign. A moment.
Less than a week ago, we returned from a two week trip to the Middle East. Israel and a little of the Palestinian Territories. Our first visit. It was nothing I would have chosen on my own. But, as my father-in-law says, he made us an offer we couldn't refuse: An anniversary trip to a place he thought we needed to see. And he wanted us to see it while he was still around to share it with us.
My father-in-law was right. We did need to see it, with all its complexity and contradictions.
Each morning since we've been back, I dream I am still there. I wake up confused, unsettled. I ache for all the people caught up in the latest round of violence. I need to do something but don't know what.
Maybe this is another moment that marks a change. A moment when everything shifts.
Causes Blair Kilpatrick Supports
Louisiana Folk Roots, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Habitat for Humanity/Musician's Village New Orleans, Doctors Without Borders