The Symbol Of My Discontent

I have an image of Reincarnation that I would so like to be true.

I wish that Reincarnation was a chance to make the Other choices in your life.

I want to be born again in exactly the same circumstances to exactly the same family. But when I come to those pivotal decisions in my life -- those "forks in the road", so to speak -- I want to choose the OPPOSITE this time around.

You know ... just to SEE.

As I find myself growing older (and 'find myself' is the correct expression here, as I am both 'finding myself' in the 'Self-discovery' definition, and in the 'Holy shit how did this happen' definition). I am also finding that I am plagued by What-Ifs.

I don't really have too many big regrets in my life. I am happy and healthy and I have an abundance of good feelings and good stuff.

But I can't help but wonder what my life would have been like had I chosen those other options? I want Seinfeld's Bizarro World in my next life.

My Same Life. But not the Same. The Opposite.

In my first job after college, my company offered to pay for my MBA. What if I had said, "No thank you. I don't want to be a business executive?" What if I had gone to grad school for Literature as I originally intended? Would I be living in a cottage by the sea now? Or in some brownstone in New York?

What if I had said "Yes" to that other guy who wanted to marry me? Would I have adult children now? Grandchildren with red hair?

What if I had tried harder to get a teaching position? Would I have been happier teaching high school English than doing financial analysis? Would I drink more?

What if I had stayed in Puerto Rico after I finished my student teaching there? Would I laugh more, dance with more joy? Or be all wrinkly from too much sun?

As I said, I am happy with Life as it is right now.

But how curious I am to try the Opposite too.

I have an image in my head lately that won't leave me. It seems to be the symbol of my questioning regret.

When I first started to work, I lived in a tiny furnished studio apartment over the garage of some sweet elderly folks. And as I progressed in my accidental career, my income went up, and I decided that it would be nice to have a bigger place of my own, with my own things that I could choose and love.

So I started looking for a new apartment. And I found one. It was half of the first floor of an old Victorian house. Not a mansion, but oh so beautiful. This two-bedroom apartment had floor-to-ceilings windows. The hardwood floors reflected the sunlight that poured through those windows. The living room had built-in bookshelves and a spot that invited a piano. And a charming kitchen with a breakfast nook.

It was 1982. I had been paying $195 per month in rent. But with my raises, I had figured I could afford up to $325 per month. And this lovely apartment was $400.

I agonized and made the practical decision. I turned it down and found a simpler place to live within my budget.

But now, 34 years later, I am haunted by those floor-to-ceiling windows. By that breakfast nook.

In my next life, I want to have breakfast in that nook.

Would my life be totally different?

**

Read more from Nancy at her blog, Not Quite Old.

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