What If What If

This is probably the opposite of how most people feel, but the further I get from my teenage years the more I love going back to my parent’s house in the town where I went to high school. Even though I no longer run into people I know at Starbucks and I barely recognize parts of the county thanks to tons and tons of development I get more and more comfortable there. My current life as I know it fits into my teenage year memories better than I ever expected it to – like at the party on Christmas night where my mean, scary 9th grade French teacher played with my kids for an hour. If you had told 15 year old Suzanne that would happen some day she would have laughed right in your face. Or when another high school friend’s mom hugged E, greeted him by name and said it was great to see him again. I have been dragging him around to my social stuff for such a long time now that he KNOWS these people, people I sort of hoped figured I’d never see again after graduation but have somehow continued to reappear in extremely pleasant ways.

Of course, it’s also impossible to go back to the place where you went to high school without being FLOODED with memories. I think I drove E a little crazy, pointing out that one road where that one guy I knew once almost ran into a tree. But honestly, the number of memories I DIDN’T say out loud was somewhere in the thousands. It was exhausting, both mentally and emotionally, to be surrounded by so much personal history.

Swistle posted earlier this week about imagining life as a choose-your-own-adventure book, which is something I’ve been sort of obsessing about for the last week. Except instead of imagining how things would be different if I changed BIG things – like going to a different college or marrying someone else or buying a different house – I change teeny tiny things. What if I hadn’t come home late from curfew that one time and been grounded? What if I hadn’t gotten that part in the play my senior year? What if I hadn’t gone on that one date? Or that other one? What if my first car had been different? I have a habit of getting carried away with “what if” thoughts whenever something bad (BAD bad or broken dish bad, doesn’t matter) happens, especially as a result of my choices. Like, what if I hadn’t skipped that french exam to leave early the Friday before Thanksgiving break in 2000? I could have been on the road at a different time, I could have been in an accident, I could have met someone at a rest stop who changed the course of my life. I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating but if you think about how many tiny coincidences you CAN trace directly to visible things in your life (the best example of course seems to be getting pregnant – SO MANY tiny things worked together to create THAT SPECIFIC baby) it’s not too much of a stretch.

Of course, all that imagining is pointless and time consuming and although it gives me something to distract me from what I’m pretty sure is an extremely painful collapsed lung* on my right hand side, it’s also starting to prevent me from focusing on IMPORTANT and HAPPY and REAL things happening in my life. I especially need happy thoughts now, since we’re starting that dark, cold, boring part of the year where I expend all my energy practicing for the non-existent Moping Olympics. Maybe this year I won’t even enter!

*Not actually a collapsed lung.


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6 Responses to “What If What If”

  1. FourInchHeels says:

    I do that! Generally more to marvel at how much one conversation changed the entire course of my life – 8th grade me went on a field trip to NYC where I met a boy. Had I not had that chat on the Chelsea Piers, I wouldn’t have moved to NY for college, wouldn’t have gotten that wrist injury from piano, (so would still have two functioning and useful wrists and no grotesque surgery scars), wouldn’t have made that questionable choice that made me want out of the English department and wouldn’t have discovered my undying passion for linguistics which has lead to jobs I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten because they thought my degree choices were so interesting that they called me in for an interview to see why I’d done it. etc etc etc

    I can honestly say my *entire* life changed course because of a 20-minute conversation with a stranger. What a simple thing. It blows my mind.

  2. Oh, I think about the “what if” ALL the time. Sometimes it’s intereting to wonder. And, also the what if’s for my friends that have passed from this world far too early… if they made a different choice… would they still be here? What if. Hmmm… now my mind is wandering.

  3. Robyn says:

    Yeah, i do it too. Usually though, it starts with…if Pfizer hadn’t closed, I wouldn’t have taken that job in CT, we wouldn’t have had to move back to MI because i didn’t like said job in CT, and then we wouldn’t have lost tons on the house, and wouldn’t be so far in debt, so maybe i could afford to work part time. But then it ends with, if Pfizer hadn’t closed, I wouldn’t have taken that job in CT, and then we wouldn’t have been lonely and bored the summer of 2008, and wouldn’t have decided to have a baby, and that would have been tragic, cause the baby is now an awesome toddler that i can’t imagine life without. It’s crazy to think about though. one decision leads to another….

  4. barbra says:

    I play that game all the time in my head. I try not to, but if I have nothing more productive to think about, or if I’m avoiding work, I play what if.
    If you need something happy to think about – check out my post of Knox playing in pudding. My texture-adverse kid, the kid the pediatrician said might have autism because of his weird texture stuff, the kid who doesn’t eat or touch anything wet, soft or gooey actually spent a half hour happily playing in a bowl of pudding. Maybe my 80 photos from 2 cameras (and five videos) are overboard and qualify me as a crazy mama, but last night brought joy to our entire family.
    So, if you need a moment of happiness to get away from the what if game, feel free to enjoy the pudding photos. Those photos helped me get through a rough day at work today with a genuine smile on my face.

  5. Jen F (from Robinson) says:

    Hahaha, especially yes to the getting pregnant thing. Wait 5 more minutes, wiggle your hips a different way… and BAM different kid. Mind-bottling for sure.

    Man, I’m bummed you were back in the area and I didn’t see you! And you were in my backyard to boot (I’m claiming all of the Town Center now). Not that I go anywhere but the pediatrician these days. But still. Glad you had a trip down memory lane. Even though I still live here, I totally get the same thing when I go back to Burke, since I don’t go there much.

  6. Sarah-Anne says:

    i think about that all.the.time. you are not alone, friend. since i know that ONE decision can change my life, i obsess about which one it will be? and what the heck will happen?!
    but then i chill. and remember God has my life in his hands. so i’m all good :)

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