Monday, May 04, 2009

'Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets'

I have surprisingly few regrets in my life.

I was thinking about the course of people's lives on yesterday's occasion of what would have been my father's 86th birthday. He's been gone now four years; my mom for 19. For a long time, I have felt different from people who still have their parents.

Today, I realized that regardless of when mom and dad died, by now it's likely that I would have lost them anyway. Dad would be 86, Mom turning 85 in November.

And it made me think: I'm not such an oddball anymore (at least where this issue is concerned). Life is pretty normal.

And I got to thinking about the course of my own life, and what I would have done differently. And I know I'm going to sound like a boring Pollyanna, but the truth is, not much -- even regarding the decisions that wound up taking me unexpected places, like getting married.

How annoying is that?

Of course, there are some things I would have done differently, knowing what I know now.

1) I would have been nicer, all around. Those who know me now would probably comment about how "nice" I am. It was learned. And I still can be pretty selfish.

2) I would have attended more classes in college. I skipped so many that I still have nightmares about it.

3) I would have considered going out of state for college. I had the scholarships, but it never dawned on me this was possible.

4) I would have gotten involved in sports at a young age. They're so important for girls -- they teach discipline, self-esteem and how to lose with grace.

5) I would have learned how to play the guitar earlier.

6) I wouldn't have gotten a credit card when I was in college.

7) I would have been more discriminating with men.

8) I might have had a child.

This list, however, paled in comparison to what I am thankful I did do; for example:

1) Lived outside of Delaware, in N.C., Boston and S.F.

2) Got married, even though it didn't last.

3) Got divorced!

4) Bought a convertible.

5) Maintained several life-long friendships.

6) Went to London on a blind date.

7) Went to graduate school and earned an MFA in creative writing.

8) Went far enough in the application process to know I could have entered the SFPD academy.

9) Bought a house.

10) Adopted three cats and a dog.

11) Didn't do drugs.

12) Witnessed the birth of my best friend's first child.

13) Went home to stay with Dad indefinitely when he was diagnosed with cancer.

14) Told both my mom and my dad how much I loved them before they died.

15) Drove cross-country by myself.

16) Laughed. A lot.

So, Arthur Miller, I think I can say, I have the right regrets.

1 comment:

Shaken Mama said...

Play the guitar, indeed! Maybe you should go back to that old introductory bio and do all of the things that you said you did...

And I'm glad that the trauma of Chebbles' birth didn't totally obscure its significance!