As I went for a casual Sunday run on the National Mall in my new city, I thought about how different my life would be today had I not chosen, and sometimes been handed, this vague path of mine. I took the “what ifs?” that I normally spin around in my head and spun them the other way.
What if that boy had loved me back instead of throwing me away like a greasy McDonald’s bag after he had consumed all of its contents? I likely wouldn’t be jogging on the National Mall, nor be in D.C. I would have followed him; done whatever necessary to make our relationship work. I would have spent my Sunday consumed by grocery lists, breakfast/lunch/dinner, housework and kid’s homework. I’d fall into bed after a day full of busyness and constant motion, too physically tired and emotionally worn for romance with the man I once couldn’t get enough of while he dreamed of that cute brunette at work. I’d do that for so many years that it would start to blur. And, sadly but realistically speaking, I would have sacrificed it all for a relationship with a fair chance of ending in the deep, nasty pain of divorce. So, while singlehood can be lonely, I’d much rather be lonely because I am alone than lonely as my spouse sits next to me on the couch. Thank you, then, Mr. Wishy-Washy (and so many other not nice names) for sparing me of the pain you would have brought into my life. Thank you for letting me go . . . forward.
What if I had hooked a steady income and eight hour work day straight out of college? What if I had jumped into the daily grind at 21 years old? Yeah, I’d have a 401K and maybe a new car. Shoot, maybe even a pretty house with all-steel appliances, automatic ice-maker, and big screen television. But I wouldn’t have felt like a little girl as I admired a swarm of seagulls swirling over my head in front of the Capitol. I would have forgotten to look up. I wouldn’t have lived in four countries and visited ten others by the age of 24. Most importantly, I may have forgotten the people around me. I wouldn’t have noticed the quiet tear fall from the eye of the store clerk when she thought no one was watching. I wouldn’t have exchanged wisdom with my father over bottomless cups of coffee countless times. I definitely wouldn’t have had time to sit in Borders on a Monday and read a book while the rest of the world buzzes past me in the window.
What if I hadn’t been raised by two parents who, after 38 years, still love each other profoundly and still kiss and laugh together? Well, I might have a boyfriend, seeing as I would have lower standards. Maybe I could be content with the guy who is sort of there but sort of not, and definitely never when you need him. I’ve dated him before. But, no, I’m waiting on Mr. Damn Near Wonderful because that is exactly who my father is to my mother.
What if I knew more of the answers to my life?
I wouldn't be having this much fun.