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24 Years online
••• The International Writers Magazine -

Nothing matters...and everything does.
• Kevin Hughes
Those chance moments that change everything

Keven Hughes and friend

Looking back at more than seventy years of life, amazed is the word that comes to mind. Nothing is insignificant, and the most insignificant things... often become the most significant. The smallest things often cause the biggest events to happen. The first home computer, the first smartphone, the first internet connection- all of them changed the world we know. And no one knew at the time.

But I don’t want to talk about the freak order of occurrences that changed Society, or the World. No, I want to talk about the moments in an ordinary life…mine… that turned out to be the foundation of my future:

I was in Sixth Grade at an Inner City Catholic School. I had won a medal for saving a girl from an oncoming car. I ate lunch with the Mayor. I got promoted to the Head of the Crossing Guards - at my School, that was the premier position for a Sixth Grader to have. It even came with a uniform and badge. And…I started as the smallest guard ever on our little basketball team. My paper route was bringing in enough money for all my needs, with some left over to give to my Parents. I was on a roll.

Then…we moved. Seventeen miles away from the crowded inner city school to a brand spanking new suburb. Why? Because some planning commission decided to build a High School where we used to live, and all my other nine siblings grew up. So they tore half our block down…the half I used to live on. People who I never met, never knew me (or my family) made a decision that changed the lives of hundreds of kids. I was heartbroken and caught off guard when me moved to our new school, half way through the Fall semester. I went from a guy with promise, to the weird inner city tough that didn’t even know where the Class was in any subject.

It didn’t matter to the Planning Commission…they wanted (and got) a brand new High School. We didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Oh…but it did. For all of my inner city close friends either died, got messed up with drugs…or went to prison. Would that have been my fate too? I will never know. The last time I saw my gaggle of inner city friends, they told me never to come back and visit them. As my inner circle told me:

“You made it out, Kevin. You don’t belong here anymore.”

And I didn’t.

At the other end of that first jarring move to the suburbs, is a small corner where two roads intersected: Walter and Guessner Roads. It was a cold November morning, my first day at my new school was just starting, and I had to wait at a bus stop at that intersection. Already at that bus stop, were a brother and a sister. By the end of that day, those two people would become the most important folks in my life for the next decade. One would become my best friend …for life. Literally. He died last year…and I miss him. For sixty years we were best friends…and not once did we have a falling out. Remarkable.

He and I were in the same Class that day. A bully pantsed him (pulled his pants down to his knees, showing off his underwear) in front of the whole Class. My soon to be best friend was embarrassed beyond belief. He turned beat red, and scurried to his seat with tears in his eyes. I went over to his desk to see if he was okay. I asked if he wanted me to beat up the bully boy.

He stared at me. I mean I was the smallest boy in the Class, and one of the smallest kids in the entire school. But I hated bullies, and my default setting was to just go right at them. He realized I was serious…and asked me if I wanted to come over his house after school. So he, his sister and I, sat together on the bus all the way home. I went to their house that afternoon. From then on, it was my second home. Until he bought a car our Senior year, the three of us walked to the bus stop, and home from it too, every day of the School year for the next six years.

His sister, would become a friend, my first real girlfriend, and later…my fiancé. She would move on and find her True love. So would I, but at the time she left…I was devastated. But had she not left…I wouldn’t have found my Kathy.

Nothing matters and everything does.

I went in the Army. I got stationed in Hawaii for five years. My younger brother moved to Austin Texas for work. Seemingly unrelated events in each of our lives. I asked to be extended on my tour in Hawaii. I begged actually. I was willing to give up a hard earned Stripe AND re-enlist for six more years if they let me stay in Hawaii. The General said: “No.”

I found myself on a plane to Texas in mid-January … just two weeks after the General cut my orders. I arrived in Dallas in the middle of an Ice Storm. Yep. From eighty six degrees and soft tropical trade winds, to freezing in the back of an open air jeep for the 156 mile journey to Ft. Hood. Believe me, I spent that whole journey in misery, both from the weather and my self induced pity party.

After a month at Ft. Hood, I got some leave. I went to visit my little brother down in Austin. He had a spare bedroom. Soon I was down there every weekend I had off. One day, as I was going to the parking lot to get into my car, I heard a beautiful voice coming out of an apartment next to the stairs. I listened for a while. I learned later that she was just practicing her “Vocalize” for an upcoming Opera. Her voice was so pretty, that I knocked on her door:

“Excuse me, but is that a record or a real voice?”

The door opened just as wide as the little chain would let it. Part of a face looked out at me, and it was blushing.

“Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to bother anyone. I will stop singing.”

“Oh, no! Don’t do that. You have the voice of an Angel. I don’t know anything about Opera, but my gosh that sounded like angels singing to me.”

She opened the door wide and introduced herself. We chatted for a bit, and I had to get going. She asked me if I wanted to come to a “Party” at her apartment later that night. I had to be polite, since it was I who knocked on her door. But I really don’t like house parties. And I am autistic (which I did not know at the time). Social gatherings were not my forte.

So I planned to do my evening run, show up sweaty and apologize that I couldn’t stay… because I had to go take a shower. That was my plan.

It didn’t work.

When I showed up that night, I saw a girl sitting in a rocking chair on one side of the room. Our eyes locked like they only do in movies…and I knew I had found my true love. My Kathy. I stayed until we had to say goodnight. I proposed to her that night. She said she was engaged. But…she didn’t have a ring on her finger. She said it was being sized… and would be back in six weeks.

I said:

“What’s your Fiancee’s name?”


“Peter is the name of an Apostle. Kevin is the name of a husband.”

Six weeks later… she sent the ring back. A year later we were married.

A knock on a door to compliment a stranger with a good voice, led me to the most important person in my life.

Nothing matters, and everything does.

I got out of the Army and went to University. I didn’t fit. And I sure as heck couldn’t meet the language requirement my college had for my Major. I was put on Academic Probation. My friend and Lab Partner wanted to cheer me up. So he said he was taking Kathy and I to a Comedy Show at the local Comedy Club. What he didn’t say was that he had enrolled me as one of the contestants in the Amateur Comedy Contest that night.

I won.

When I got off stage, my Kathy hugged me and said:

“Kevin, that is where you belong.”

And it was. For thirty years that was my career.

A Planning Commission rezoning, a chance encounter at a bus stop in a rural farm community, a stiff necked General making a decision, my brother getting an apartment three thousand miles away, a girl with a pretty voice, a knock on the door, a rocking chair with the most beautiful woman in the world sitting in it, and a friend who tricked me into going on stage for just one time…

Nothing matters, and everything does.

And it doesn’t stop there. We have children and grandchildren now…and the cascade of small... seemingly insignificant things... continue to flow into the turning points of their lives too.

We ended up here…where we are now…old, loved, and irrelevant to most of the world. We don’t matter much to anyone other than our friends and family…and that is all that matters.

Nothing matters, and everything does.

Life taught me that.

© Kevin Hughes July 1st 2023
Born 1951, Wilmington NC, United States     

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