On our last road trip to the beach, David asked me what I would do differently with my life, if I were offered a complete Do-Over. This is one of our favorite games, sandwiched between “what would you do if you won 10 million dollars” and “where do you think we’ll all be in 10 years”.
I can think of a lot of little errors I’d like to correct: not skipping the majority of my freshman & junior years to hang out with friends in pool halls, not losing my virginity to a boy who showed his affection with his fists, and not being so afraid of rejection to tell David that I fell in love with him the second my 13-year old eyes saw him loping across the front lawn of Greenville High School with a sketchpad in his arm.
I like to think I’d study more, smoke less pot, and say no to a few more boys. I like to think I’d have gone to college instead of giving up on that dream so easily and convincing myself that my family couldn’t afford it. Teenagers with less money than I went on to college, and I’d have loved to be one of them. Maybe I’d be a music teacher, or a writer who took herself seriously from the get-go.
I like to think that when David did ask 17-year-old Heather out, the different choices I would have made before would have kept me from being so obsessively clingy that I scared him off. Maybe we would have stayed together and avoided the devastating relationships & addictions that we both went through before we found one another again. In that Do-Over World, he’d have gone to college too, and armed with his amazing talent, an art degree & the confidence that a degree would have given him, his work would be world-renowned by now.
Maybe we’d have married long ago, 14 years ago when we first whispered “I love you” to each other. Maybe we’d have these same kids, who look and act so remarkably like David that it’s easy to forget, in the long spans of time between child support checks and visitation, that they aren’t his biological kids. Maybe my children’s’ births would have gone differently in that Do-Over World, allowing us to have had the third child that we want so badly.
But then again… so many bad things could have happened too, if we did it all again. Maybe the Universe would have spun a different web for our lives and not a single thing would be similar to the life we share now? Maybe we went through the hard and painful times so that we could learn to appreciate the value of the good and fruitful times?
And in the end, no matter how many times we play the game and weave different Do-Over World possibilities for our lives, I always come to the same conclusion. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the path I’ve walked and the place I’ve landed. Every error and mistake, every good and bad choice, brought us here… and it’s a really nice place to be.