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Thursday, March 29, 2007

D'you ever wonder . . . ?

. . . about things in your past, conversations or events, and what would have happened if they had gone just a little differently?

A couple of our acquaintance, roughly of my parents' generation, have an interesting story to tell. They knew each other as teenagers, though he was a few years older than she. They were friends, but the age difference and other circumstances meant that they never actually dated. While he was away at college or on his mission or something like that, she started dating someone else, who eventually proposed to her. She called her friend and told him, and then there was one of those pauses. She was wishing and hoping he would say, "Don't marry him; marry me instead." He was wishing and hoping she would say, "But I don't really love him; I'd rather be with you." But neither of them said anything, and she married the other guy and had a bunch of kids with him, and he married someone else as well. Many years down the road, both of them ended up single at the same time, and they finally married and have been very happy.

My story is less interesting, because I'm not sure there would have been any significant long-term consequences of things having gone differently. But you never know. Either at Christmas or in the spring after my freshman year in college (do you remember, MWR?), a friend threw a party for those of us who'd come back to town. Most of the people in attendance were from my high school class, but there were a few siblings and random others from different graduation years. One of the guys there was one I'd known since fifth grade, when we'd swum on the public pool swim team. He was two years older than I was, and for the two years we'd swum together I saw a lot of him in a Speedo. He was the subject in my first ever sex-y dream, in about sixth grade.

So anyway, at this party there was food and parlor games and even dancing--and, unlike in junior high and most of high school, people actually danced. This guy asked me to dance on a slow song, and force of habit from stake dances led me to assume the "closed" dance position, as opposed to the bear-hug typical for school dances. I awkwardly explained that that was how we did it at church dances, blah blah blah, and he was nice and said it was nice to try something different, but could we dance closer together? Yeah, sure. Dance dance dance, chat chat chat. As the song was ending, he asked if I wanted to go outside for a little walk, and I SAID NO! Hello!?!?! Could I possibly have missed more signals? It wasn't until much later that I realized what I had (probably) missed out on, and there was no going back, none.

Now, I think it's a fairly safe bet that I wouldn't have married this guy or even dated for long (if in fact he had been interested in a girlfriend instead of just some casual necking). But at that age and stage, a little of the right kind of attention from the right kind of guy (he was SUPER nice) might have done really good things for my self-esteem, which in turn might have helped me be less desperate and downright pathetic, etc. I still don't think I would have found someone I should marry in Utard. But who knows? With a little more self-confidence, I might have chosen an entirely different (~ more risky) career path.

How about you? Anything you wish had gone differently? Or wonder what would have happened if it had?



Blogger Mary Ellen said...

I'll never know firsthand whether my biggest crush in college is a good kisser; otherwise, most of my wonderings were school/career related.

I came home one summer to find paperwork for a Dow Jones internship buried in a stack of mail my mom never bothered to forward to me. By then, it was too late to apply.

I also wonder where my career would be had I gotten more encouragement in journalism school. The professors fawned over the golden boys, but didn't do much to mentor or support the women students.

Or if I'd been encouraged to apply for editor in chief my last semster; the advisors were upset that they only had one distateful applicant that summer, but never hinted they wanted a bigger pool to choose from.

March 29, 2007 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger MWR said...

If I was there and it was at EM's house and we played Trivial Pursuit, it was Christmas. I am embarrassed to say (not really) that I can still remember two notable moments (for me) from that Trivial Pursuit game. But I don't remember any dancing, so you may be thinking of a different party.

Answers to the last two questions: yes and yes. Hope you weren't angling for examples ;)

March 30, 2007 at 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, don't be coy!

March 30, 2007 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger MWR said...

Why be coy when you can be evasive.

March 31, 2007 at 12:43 AM  
Blogger JMK said...

Oh yeah. I wish I'd ignored the lack of advice and support I received from a college "guidance" counselor and actually stuck out pre-med. I wish I'd gone on to medical school.

I have almost no regrets in my life, but that one--not going to medical school--that is my biggest regret. (That, and moving back to DC. Wish I'd stayed in the Bay Area.)

April 2, 2007 at 12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Janet, I didn't know that about you! When I graduated from high school, I seriously thought I'd be a doctor, too. But then I got sucked down the wide and slippery path of foreign language majoring, and it was all over.

April 2, 2007 at 9:18 AM  

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