The Road Forked

An old friend found me on Facebook and it brought back some lovely 30-year old memories. Which is so odd since I’m nowhere near old enough to have been in high school THIRTY years ago, but there you go.

As I learned of his good solid life in the same town we lived in all the way back then, it occurred to me. What if?

He said he wished we’d handled things differently. But I don’t know that we could have, given who we were back then. But what if we had?

I don’t mind this “what if” game because I know those threads are impossible to pull. All those life choices are a complicated tapestry. Up close, those threads are tight and colorful, but you have to step back to appreciate the whole thing. One particular thread that I don’t like, I could try pulling it loose, but the whole thing gets messed up. Some of those threads are tough, but with time they mellow and blend in.

If I hadn’t been married the first time, so much bad stuff would have been avoided. But I wouldn’t have Audra. And that marriage prompted some important healing I needed to do- without which I’d be a babbling wreck.

Sure, I’d probably have some other kid and maybe that kid would have been easier as a teenager…but that kid wouldn’t be Audra and Audra is MY girl so there is no way I can regret the road that forked and the path I didn’t turn down.

That said, it is a sort of interesting exercise.

I left Texas in 1986. But I went back in 1989 and I loved it. Well, I didn’t love the humidity and there are some really scary bugs there.

But what if I had stayed? I was asked to apply for a job as a fire fighter. What if? I didn’t because there was no way I could carry 150 dead weight up a tower or live in a firehouse with all men. Strong, savvy, wanting to help people, yes. Pioneering female fire fighter. No.

What if I’d stayed in Costa Rica? I came back and could’ve gotten my old job in my hometown. But I took a job in Santa Cruz County instead. What if?

My life is good. I love my children. My job. My writing. My friends. Family. The redwoods outside my window. Asking what if is not about regrets. It just makes me curious to think what those other paths would have been like.

Not saying they would have been better or easier or straighter or rockier, but who would I be? Would I speak Spanish? Maybe I’d be fluent? Would I say “y’all” or stick with “you guys”? Would I be a writer? Would I have two children or four? Or none?

Do you have any what ifs?