Monday, February 17, 2014

Unanswerable Questions

Last night J and I had a Date Night since we have this awesome nanny/sitter now.  We do things classy - a fast food dinner from Wienerschnitzel (they have pretzel buns now - I'm a sucker for pretzel buns - and anyway, I'm going to go back to being a vegetarian now that I'm no longer breastfeeding...soon...) and a movie.  J snuck his hot dogs into the theater in his pockets because he's skinny and wears loose jeans.  So I could really say, "is that a hot dog in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me," and the answer would be that it was a hot dog.  I find that amusing.

Anyway, we saw Winter's Tale, which it seems critics hate, but I loved.  I won't do a boring recap of the plot here - there are tons of snide reviewers and critics out there already doing that.  But the part I really liked was how it crosses time and dimensions, and how magic surrounds us.

I'm starting to get to that place in life where you start to get glimpses of What Might Have Been.  When you're in your 20's and just starting out, you don't see those places.  You just see this big life, 60 years or whatever, stretching out before you and waiting to be filled up.  And I suppose that once you get older, you don't really think about those Coulda Shoulda Woulda's that much because there's not really much point.  You're happy with the life you've made, and that's that.  But I feel like here, in my mid-(almost late)-30's, I'm still close enough to those decisions that I can see the other lives that other decisions would have led to, and I can wonder about them.  It's like wagon spokes that stretch out from the center indefinitely.  I'm on my spoke, but I can still see the other ones on either side of me.  Eventually it'll get to a point where I can't see the other ones because we'll all be so far apart.

I think about things like:
- What if we hadn't bought our house when we did?
- What if I had never got married?
- What if we never adopted that first stray cat that showed up on the deck (pregnant, unbeknownst to us)?
- What if I had stayed in London by marrying one of my gay friends?
- What if I would have taken that job in Hong Kong in 2003?

I think about the other people I could have been.  There's Career Girl, the girl I always thought I'd become, who modeled herself after Samantha on Sex and the City, who never got attached and always looked out for herself first.  And had fabulous shoes and was always on the list to get into any club she wanted.  Then there's New Agey Hippie Girl, who maybe lives in a commune in Santa Cruz, reads tarot cards on the beach and eats a lot of organic soy.

Then there are versions of who I am that are only slightly different than who I am now.  Like if I'd have stayed in London.  I'm sure I'd still be me, only just a bit different.  Maybe a little better put together.  I always seem to try harder in London.  London brings out my inner fashionista.  Or, at least my inner-person-who-cares-about-good-grooming.  I imagine who I'd have become if I'd stayed in NYC, and I think I'd be a bitter version of myself now.  Life was harder there, and I don't think I'm cut out for the obstacle course that living in Manhattan was.  If I'd have stayed in Nashville I think I would have gouged my eyes out with a spoon.  I really hated Nashville.

Anyway, the point of this exercise isn't to wallow in the me-who-could-have-had-better-shoes.  But to recognize how life is made up of these decisions we make every day.  Choose one road over another, and that's the road you're on.  We realize this with the big things.  Like, if I marry this person, then I give up my Life of Singledom (and I really loved being Single).

But it's the little things that really make up the bulk of our decisions each day.  If I eat that spoonful of icing that is really *really* calling to me right now, then I'm not going to ever fit back into my prepregnancy jeans properly.  Alternatively, if I go to yoga each week, I will get stronger and more flexible, and quite possibly be able to contort my body into my jeans sooner.

So I'm looking at the decisions and choices I make today and trying to imagine how I can incorporate some of these other Heather's that are still tantalizingly close, without having to jump over into that life.

And I also wonder whether there isn't some other dimension where all of the different choices got played out fully, and there's not some other Seinfeldian Bizarro Heather who has managed to grow her hair out so it's long and shiny.

This is where my brain starts to play tricks on me and I feel like I'm watching an episode of Through the Wormhole, one of my favorite shows where Morgan Freeman explains trippy scientific concepts, like What is Time.  Is time finite?  Is time fixed?  What if, right now, all these other Heather's were running around with fabulous hair, doing all kinds of different things, in relationships with different people, married, not married, kids, no kids, yada yada.  I'd like to talk to some of these other Heather's, and see what they think about life.
But then we'd probably all explode, and that wouldn't be any fun.

And this is the point where my head starts to explode.  And I'm late for yoga.

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