notquiteold

Nancy Roman

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, thirty-four 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?

 

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44 Comments

  1. It would be interesting to see what our “other” lives would have been like. I would have done a lot of things differently. Great post, very thoughtful.

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    • I’m not sure how much I’d do differently, but I’d LOVE to know how it would have worked out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Deb

    I so enjoy opening a blog post and finding that someone has written the exact thing that has been haunting my days and nights for so long. What if…such a huge, exhilarating, terrifying, awesome and powerful little sentence. I have so damn many ‘what if’s’ mostly all attached to the unhappy things in my life right now, and I wonder if I had that chance to redo would I really make better choices or simply different ones that lead me to exactly where I am right now anyway…

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    • Have you read Stephen King’s “11-22-63”? Changing history doesn’t always turn out for the better, but I can’t help but wonder.

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      • I read this. I’m still wondering about that hamburger meat that he kept buying over and over. Also, I never understood the meaning of that guy with the card right outside the portal. If you can explain him and his degression, I’d appreciate it.

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        • I can’t explain the hamburger, except in the context that he was able to bring the same day’s meat back every time – no matter when he went. As far as the guy with the card, I thought perhaps he was a guy who went back and was despondent over things he could not change.

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          • I thought he was a warning to the time traveler: the more you come, the worse you’ll be.

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          • Oh… that makes it even more interesting.

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  3. Being able to make different choices in the afterlife (where I would be a much prettier version of myself, of course) would be great – provided there was an ‘undo’ feature that you could use if you realized that the ‘alternate’ wasn’t the right option after all. A fun thought!

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    • Oh yes. “Undo!” I just mentioned Steven King’s “11-22-63” about going back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination. Fascinating book that really makes you ponder about the benefit of changing history.

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  4. I feel the exact same way, Nancy. Happy with my life but…what if? I have a breakfast nook. When I had my kitchen redone due to a flood the idea to get rid of it was bounced around. I love that nook and kept it! 🙂

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    • I have a big open kitchen. I’ve loved it for years – and people love to congregate in a big kitchen. But now that I am older, I don’t particularly care to “congregate” – I want a nook.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. And that is why we write novels. What if…?

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  6. These sound like beautiful topics to explore, and write about, in a novel.
    A sort of “memoir-with-a-twist.” Fiction.
    I’d love to read it!

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    • What a great idea! I think maybe I should do it… with a happy ending of course.

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  7. Roxanne

    Nancy, your blogs so often describe what is going on in my head too! I suppose this “what if..” quandary is a Top 3 item of philosophical self-introspection. My biggest ‘what if’ would be “what if I did not marry my first husband, because deep down, I knew it was a mistake?”.
    Fun to think about sometimes. Great blog!

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    • Thank you Roxanne. Lately, I just can’t stop thinking about the choices I’ve made… both the big and the small – and wondering. Would I be a different person, or exactly where I am now?

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  8. What an interesting post. Very original! 🙂

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  9. An honest and thoughtful post. i too think of the what ifs…but here we are…

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  10. I know I would have done a lot of things differently. Not that I’m not happy with my life. Having children makes it impossible to imagine not having the kids you have and if you made different choices well I guess you’d have different children, or none at all, but if we remove them from the equation I too want that house by the sea or that loft in New York where I would write every day except when I’m out of town on a book tour or researching my latest best-selling novel.

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    • I want another chance to do it over. Is that too much to ask?

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, it’s human, unless you’re the lucky few who lived a perfect life, and oddly enough they often can’t see the forest for the trees either.

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  11. shew, what a thought. the What If’s of life. I have plenty of those!

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  12. 97 % sure that one moment, being introduced to a perfect woman, her father introduced us, I would easily, had a ready made family. Her baby was two– her kisses so sweet- I wept.

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    • Such a sad lovely story in two sentences. Thank you for sharing it.

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  13. This has been something I’ve mused on over the years–I should have taken orchestra in high school instead of chorus (even though I love to sing and have sung in choirs and choruses most of my life–even did a South America choir tour). I once told a young man my daughter was dating–he was agonizing over a decision that would preclude a different, equally attractive choice–that each time we make a choice we choose against all the other infinite possibilities at that moment. Makes your head spin. I think the idea for a memoir or novel would be fun to explore.

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    • You are so right. With everything you say “Yes” to… it means you are saying “No” to something else… and some of those “No’s” may have been wonderful. And it kills me that I will never know.

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  14. Ray G

    To hopefully inject some levity: get a hobby! Or two, or three.
    Or, on the other hand: “The saddest words of mice and men are ‘what might have been'”

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    • I have lots of hobbies, and I love them all – especially blogging. But how I sometimes long for what might have been.

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  15. Christiine

    One of things I could never understand is people who say “if I had to live my life over again I wouldn’t change a thing.” How unimaginative! Like you, I have had a good life, with few regrets. But I’ve already done this life, so why do it again? There are so many other options out there that might be just as satisfying.

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    • I’d love to see me in the city, or teaching school, or ….

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  16. Such provocative questions. I sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if I spent my early 20’s in New York City instead of the Connecticut corporate world. Oh well. Its only when we’re older we have the perspective to really judge the decisions of youth. And yes, that apartment was awesome.

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    • We are so much alike. I was in the Connecticut corporate world too. Maybe when I am an old woman I will have that apartment.

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  17. I’ve thought about this same thing – not your life of course, but my own choices. If I could go back, knowing what I know, what would I do differently.

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    • It would be so lovely if reincarnation allowed you to go back and try the other road.

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  18. bekahrigby

    This is an absolutely lovely post.

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    • Thank you so much. I’m so happy you liked it.

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  19. I had that NYC apartment (with two roommates) in my late 20s. I have regrets from that time, too. No matter where you go, there you are.

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  20. sliding doors would be interesting but not much fun I suspect; coming back to the breakfast nook, though, now that looks just peachy

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  21. Love it!!!!!!

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