All our yesterdays

November 29, 2017

yesterdaysMy tech support guy was looking for malware and viruses and instead he discovered a path back in time. Determining that some old documents might be responsible for issues with my Mac, we opened a few of them and I saw–maybe for the first time since I’d written it, 20 years ago–a piece I’d done about a Silicon Valley professional friend who had died.

When I read it I was immediately transported back in time to the days when I worked in northern California tech companies. I saw the jobs, the offices, the people. I felt the feelings. It was as if I’d stepped into a time machine and was re-experiencing everything I’d lived through back then. And I saw my friend, Phil, now gone more than 20 years. How is that even possible?

Seeing ghosts

I saw my friend and the countless others, some gone, some still here, ghosts who were part of one of my yesterdays.

I chose to leave the tech industry and move to Florida for a consulting job. But really, I was escaping the sexist, male-dominated corporations in the Valley, where I knew I could only go so far because of my gender, but also because I wasn’t willing to play games. Every so often, but not too often, I wonder what would have happened had I stayed. Where I’d be now, at my age, long past the age when tech workers are in their prime.

For a while in Florida I missed the industry terribly. The dot-com boom started just after I left and I couldn’t shake the feeling I was missing something big. Even if that something big was 21-year-old executives who often drove their companies into the ground.

Still, the piece on loss and discovery brought home to me the way it was still possible to have warm, real friendships in the Valley, even if those friendships began professionally. It was a club back then. Still is, I guess. And I belonged in a way I never again belonged to an industry or a company or even a job.

Same old song

For a long time I was pretty happy with my work in Florida. Recruiters would call and ask, what would it take to get you to leave? and my answer was always nothing.  I was self-actualized, so why would I leave?

Eventually, though, same ole, same ole. I worked in a city run by old white men and in a company run by aging white men who failed to earn my respect. I could say more, but I won’t.  Fortunately, as a consultant I ran my own book of business and it was pretty significant. Until it wasn’t. And then, true colors came out flashing neon.

When the opportunity to move on came, I took it.  The fact is, I faked it, marking time and paying my mortgages until I could leave. I admit: I manipulated in the interests of a paycheck. But when the time came I was thrilled to leave.

I don’t miss it. Not one bit of it. And I don’t miss them. 

When you see the dirty underbelly it’s hard to ever see anything else.

I made some friends in Florida, a few good ones, a few that went by the wayside in ugly ways. It’s human nature, I guess. I’ve seen my share, both good and evil.

I know many people who have lived fairly linear lives that unfolded sequentially, but that wasn’t my life. Not by a long shot. I moved around–jobs, husbands, relationships in some strange form of ADD.

What might have been

It’s curious, though, to think of what might have been– to step back into one of my yesterdays, to relive it or even to see how life would have turned out had I made other choices.

As we age, all our yesterdays mount up and our history lays behind us, a crazy quilt of all the decisions we’ve made for good or not so good.

Those pangs of nostalgia when we think of friends who were so important to us back in the day, now gone, or gone on to live out their own histories, of which we are no longer a part. The whatever happened to… wonderings that lead to internet searches and maybe even a surprise or two.

What is …compared to what might have been. I could get lost on those musings.

How about you?



43 comments on “All our yesterdays
  1. Donna Tagliaferri says:

    I wonder sometimes…but then I feel I did what I was supposed to do…I guess, I don’t know, maybe…sigh

  2. Memories, they can be a tricky thing. Sometimes I feel that when i look back at certain things that I now have glamorized some aspects of the truth. Maybe that is a coping mechanism to hide how bad some situations really were, make the good time even better. I am grateful for my pas, if not for it I would be where I am today. But, the thought of where I might have been still lingers.

  3. Sapana V says:

    When I see my histories, I always realise that everything happens for good.

  4. Andy Atsugah says:

    Nice post, Yes its very curious to step back into one of our past situations or relive it or think what could have been possible if we made other choices.Our future depends on our decisions.

  5. There are so many what ifs in life. I’m happy to just roll with what I have right now and make the best of it.

  6. Liz says:

    I frequently find myself going over past memories, the relationships I had, how they’ve affected me. And I’ve asked myself if I could change them, would I? And I don’t think I would. Because they’ve made me who I am today.

  7. Heather says:

    Oh yes! I think about what might have been every day! We just moved to Colorado six months ago to escape a job that was literally killing my husband. Since we’ve lived here my husband’s health mentally and physically has gotten so much better. I think about if we would have stayed and stuck it out, if he would still be here today or if I would have been a widow. Its a strange world we live in, but I’m glad we are here where we are today.

  8. Beautifully written. At times, we all look back and wonder what would have happened if we took a different path, made another choice, went a different way. However, I try not to get too caught up in those “what ifs” because I do believe that everything happens for a reason.

  9. You never know when the memories and nostalgia are going to hit but, when they do, it’s always quite the whirlwind of emotions. I definitely catch myself wondering what my life would look like if I had chosen this or that but I am so glad it all turned out as it did.

  10. Jen Temcio says:

    You have had quite a great career it sounds like. And you have some very old documents!! I wonder “what if” sometimes too.

  11. Joline says:

    I have those days when I wonder what if. Usually when I’m having bad day, I wonder what if I decided B instead of A, would I still be here. I try not to dwell though. And just move forward and make the best of it!

  12. Stephanie says:

    I feel like my biggest “what-if” is moving out of Florida and to Texas. All of my family is in Florida and I miss being close to them sometimes. It’s amazing what you can find in old documents.

  13. I never made it to graduate college even but I still have those same what might have been feelings. What if I wasn’t raped? What if I had avoided that waste of a long relationship? What if my first child weren’t handicapped and dependent on me? I usually stop there because I wouldn’t trade him for the world even now, 34 years later. I think the subject makes for some nostalgia, some nausea, and then acceptance of what is. I hope you are on an awesome path now!

  14. Our Family World says:

    I think everything happens for a reason. When I look back in the past, I always have these thoughts that, “If I did not do this, I would have been better off now.” and the only thing that snaps me out of my regrets is the thought of my 3 kids. If I had chosen a different path, these three beautiful angels would have been someone else’s kids! It is nice to relive the past for all the lessons it taught me. But I wouldn’t have changed anything. I remember the quote I read just a few weeks back, and it resonates so much with this post – “I am what I am today because of the decisions I made yesterday.”

  15. In my opinion we all have struggles in life and we make adjustments to be able to survive. The most important thing is to look forward never behind.

  16. Monica says:

    I relate to this so much and am imaging a sea of women nodding their heads as they read your words. It’s infuriating, but I do have hope that times ARE changing as women continue to come forward in public ways and men are being held accountable. It is hard for me too when I imagine what might have been in terms of my career. Wonderful and thought-provoking read.

  17. Stacie says:

    I do my best to stay away from musing over what might have been. I learn from the past and move forward with that knowledge, and I only look back on the memories I made, not on what I might have made.

  18. Colleen says:

    I run across little things like this every now and again that make me muse over what might have been. I tend to get out of it as quickly as I can though. It can be nice to have little jaunts into fantasy, but it’s all too easy to start lamenting instead of musing.

  19. Irina David says:

    Nice post and I can relate to this so much, but sometimes I think that I survive with my memories

  20. Annemarie LeBlanc says:

    Reminiscing what happened in the past is something every one does from time to time. My life may not be perfect, or I do not have the life I dreamed of having, but I do not look at the past as regrets. Those are lessons learned which I can use to avoid making the same mistakes. Thankfully, I have been blessed with so much determination to succeed, and luckily, I made it!

  21. Makeba Giles says:

    This is an odd post, but in a good way! To read a post you wrote 20 years ago had to be eerie! I’ve read things from several years ago, and, like you wrote, it transported me back to that time. This was an excellent read. We can’t go back; only forward!

  22. Cindy Gordon says:

    I don’t miss my old job either. It was such a toxic work environment and it wasn’t good for anyone.

  23. kelli reci says:

    When I look back on a certain thing,I’m just thinking what could be my life now if I did not have those memories. I am blessed that I have my successful, happy and not so perfect life now because of those memories.

  24. Allison says:

    I save a lot of my old emails from former clients and I enjoy rereading them. I left advertising when one of the NY agencies I worked for went under, and I started a consulting business. It’s been a good long run. No regrets. Glad you followed your own path

  25. Claire says:

    That is interesting, but I love going back to seeing old photos! It really brings back all the good and bad memories but I still like to reminiscence what it was like. I love my current job though

  26. I have definitely made a few interesting choices that have put me on an unconventional path. I often wonder if I would be happier or more successful had I stuck with a straightforward, traditional plan. However, I know I have lived a rather interesting life so far, and I don’t think I would trade if for anything.

  27. Pam says:

    I think we all think about the “what if” side of things sometimes. For me, it’s important not to dwell on it.

  28. Sara Welch says:

    I tend to not get lost in the past. There’s nothing I can do to change what was but I can change what will be so that’s where I like to focus my thoughts.

  29. The past is what it is. No reason to focus on it. 🙂 Look forward to the future.

  30. The past is what it is. No reason to focus on it. 🙂 Look forward to the future.

  31. Claudia Krusch says:

    I think it is natural to sometimes winder what would have happened if we had made different choices. I like to think everything happens for a reason to get you to where you need to be.

  32. I try not to think so much about things that had happened. I believe everything happens for a reason. I love looking back and reminiscing those times I had with people who were once important to me, but instead of having what if’s, I just want to thank them for walking into my life and being a part of it.

  33. Rosey says:

    I think that’s why social media is so superbly popular. Everyone can look up anyone they’ve ever had a connection with, and still have a piece of the connection, no matter how small.

  34. Tami says:

    Oh, sometimes past decisions haunt me. Yet, I wouldn’t trade how life has turned out for anything different.

  35. Heather says:

    Like you, I’m pleased with where the path has taken me. I don’t have a story with as much intrigue as the one you’ve experienced. No corporate dark side to expose, but there are things I’m so glad to have left behind.

  36. Kiwi says:

    Yes I get into yesteryear traps sometimes when I think of an ex. All the would of could ofs and memories looks nice to fall into but then I snap out and say but it could of been worst if I stayed. So no always going forward…

  37. I definitely wonder about the same things, but then again I realize that I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for the choices I made. I think it’s still fun to wonder about what could have been though.

  38. Eileen says:

    I’m happy with where life has taken me, sometimes I still wonder what if. I try not to think about it to much and be thankful for what have

  39. Kim says:

    It truly is a challenge for me to not look back at past memories.Though, it is super important to not dwell on it.

  40. Glenda says:

    I used to wonder a lot however as I got older I realized it is okay to outgrow friends. I don’t miss them anymore and I don’t wonder the what ifs.

  41. What ifs are a pain for me… sometimes they tend to give me anxiety and I feel l alone or confused. It’s good to make the conscious choice to be in the now and focus on happy.

  42. Lisa Rios says:

    It is so nostalgic to think about just even the meaning of yesterday and looking at periods and episodes of your life that have ended and new chapters that have started. WHat a great reminder!

  43. Chris says:

    It’s all too easy to get lost in the what ifs. It would be interesting though if it were possible to see a virtual simulation of what life would be like if you made different choices. Might lead to a lot of sadness though, especially if one feels they are on the wrong path.

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