The warm, salty, ocean air blew my hair as I licked my bigger-than-normal ice cream cone. My family and I were walking around the main Sea Pines hub in Hilton Head when I saw it. 212. It was printed on a door up a long flight of stairs. How did I spot that out of all the hustle and bustle happening around me? I pointed it out to my aunt, and we marveled over it for a minute. I thought about taking a picture but decided against it, sure I would see it again. That's the thing about 212. My family sees it all the time. On clocks, on mailboxes, in restaurants. In likely and unlikely places. When we're looking for it and not looking for it.
Two-twelve was the number of my grandma's childhood house and something my grandpa always pointed out to her throughout their marriage. She never understood why he latched onto that seemingly random number, but after he died, she started noticing it everywhere. Just like he did. Then my cousin started seeing it, and soon we were all drawn to 212 in different ways. For me, 212 always catches me off guard. So much so that I think it can't be coincidence.
A couple weeks ago, on a particularly stressful day, I walked to the post office with three identical packages. They were going to three family members in three different states. The postman weighed the first two packages at $1.95 each, but the second one? This one's going to be two-twelve, he said. Two-twelve. Not two dollars and twelve cents. Two-twelve. And it was going to my cousin who noticed 212 more than any of us. It definitely made me catch my breath.
Walking home, I willed myself to remember to text her the story. Of course I forgot as soon as I walked in the house, but happened to remember a couple hours later. I sent her a quick text ... only to receive one back that said, you sent that at 2:12.
Maybe we're noticing 212 now more than ever because we're conditioned to see it. Or maybe it's more than a coincidence. Either way, 212 reminds us of him. Of each other. Of the fact that life is more important than work and material things. It reminds us that life is precious and that there's only one to be lived. I like to think that my grandpa's reminding me of that when I need it most.