“It seemed like a mistake. And mistakes ought to be rectified, only this one couldn't be. Between the way things used to be and the way they were now was a void that couldn't be crossed. I had to find an explanation other than the real one, which was that we were no more immune to misfortune than anybody else, and the idea that kept recurring to me...was that I had inadvertently walked through a door that I shouldn't have gone through and couldn't get back to the place I hadn't meant to leave.”
~ William Keepers Maxwell, Jr., So Long, See You Tomorrow (1980).
Today is the first day of my 27th year of marriage. All day yesterday I kept thinking how 26 used to be unimaginably old and now it isn’t. Last night I dreamt that I was in school taking a test and I’d missed the lesson about the book and I hadn’t even read the book. I figured I’d just have to fake it. Someone who took dream interpretation seriously might venture that that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. Yet if I could go back to before, I would do it all again.
There are however, a few things I’d tell myself. Not just about how beautiful bodies grow old, and energy wanes and the usual stuff. I’d tell myself not to take that disastrous job working for Skippy. I’d warn myself that the most imprudent decisions are survivable; that stylish but cheap shoes are never a good bargain; that hangovers are rarely worth the drunken fun; that loud music causes hearing loss; that I’d never like green olives stuffed with pimentos no matter how many times I tried them thinking my tastes might have finally matured, so not to bother; not to waste two hours of my life seeing that Mel Gibson movie about aliens invading his corn field; and not to take statins because they wouldn’t help and would hurt. I’d thank each of my parents and assure them that they gave me everything I needed even when I thought at the time that they weren’t.
Then, not only avoiding past mistakes and painful lessons, I’d tell myself what to do that I hadn’t done. Not just about buying stock in google and apple early on, and exercise more and the usual stuff. I’d tell myself to mellow out; to hug more often and be kinder – especially to old people whose reaction time may seem pathetically slow. I’d get myself a kitty years and years earlier than I finally did; keep that VW camper bus and get it fixed rather than trading it in on a Rabbit; plant a bigger vegetable garden and always include tomatoes; learn how to cook and can food better and sooner; and to care less about what others thought about me.
Mainly though, if I had it all to do over, I would walk (or ride my bike) through the same doors with purpose and confidence - both on the way in and on the way out. And I’d enjoy the music while I could still hear it.