Reverie: two roads diverged

August 8, 2017

reverieMy life has had more than its share of momentous events and while none can top Michael and I remarrying, others rank right up there.

A man I dated more than a dozen years ago called out of the blue the other day and we talked for almost an hour. I always feel lucky when someone I had a connection with wants to keep it going even after our circumstances have changed.  Not everyone can pull that off. But I liked him then and I like him still. That hasn’t changed. And when I saw his number come up, I smiled.

He was, in fact, responsible for one of the big moments in my life, a moment that could have changed the course of my life in a huge way. Here’s what happened:

Like a dream

It was a Tampa summer day: hot, humid; I had taken respite in a mall, where I’d shopped and was on my way back to the parking structure. My phone rang, and it was him.  We’d been dating a few months; he lived about an hour or so away and I was commuting from Tampa to Pacific Grove, Calif. every couple weeks. Still, we managed to spend time together. Not enough, but some.

We chatted for a few minutes as I wended my way through the mall kiosks toward the mall exit.

“You know,” he said, “we should get married and adopt a couple of biracial kids.”

It felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me.  But I didn’t show it. I laughed it off and we chatted for a minute more and agreed to talk further later. We said goodbye.

Instead of going to the car, I wandered around the mall in a daze. A reverie. A dream. He’d hit on the one deep void I felt in my life: I’d never had children.

By the time I was 30, I wanted them. But Michael had left, and after that, the timing never worked out. I stayed single for a long time, then married a man 13 years older who had grown children and I just couldn’t do it to him. Before long, it was too late. Believe me, life passes in a flash. So having kids was no longer an option.

Had I made my peace?

It was a void, no doubt about it, but I’d  made peace with it. Or so I thought.

I knew my friend and I were not going to be a permanent match, but he’d hit upon the one thing that would make me reconsider: the chance to have a family.  Did he inadvertently hit on it? Or did he know what it meant to me? I wasn’t sure. I’m still not sure.

Dazed, I let my mind wander to the possibilities. I could see those children clearly, as if they were real. Sure there would be challenges. He is African-American; I’m not. But we’d have made good parents. And best of all, I thought, my life would have real meaning. And that moved me to tears. Still can.

Even as I saw those kids and the life we could all have in my mind’s eye, I knew I wouldn’t do it. Couldn’t do it. He and I wouldn’t be good in a long-term relationship and I couldn’t overlook that just to make my dream come true.

But I honor this good man for saying it out loud. For showing me the possibilities still open to me. And for caring enough to want to.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both…
~Robert Frost

Paths taken, paths not taken. We all make those decisions as we walk through life.

I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made. I wouldn’t have done any of it differently, even the hard stuff.

Sometimes, though, I do wonder about what could have been if I’d taken another path.

That path.



24 comments on “Reverie: two roads diverged
  1. I’m one of those that always says, you can’t change the past. But it is good to look back and learn from it, and always so fun to consider the possibilities of different decisions!!

  2. I just really like that you accept the thoughts of “what if,” without calling your chosen path into question. It seems really healthy to assess the chances that have come and gone as a reflection of how our own decision-making evolves.

    Mostly, I love the sense of fairness that helped you decide.When another’s welfare factors in as much as your own desires, it says a lot about your character.

  3. Amy says:

    Oh boy, this one hit the nail on the head for me. I have a friend, a former boyfriend, who I believe saved my life in high school. It didn’t work out with us dating but he is still to this day my best friend and dear to me. He changed ny life for the better. I will always cherish my friendship and dating time as well with him. And I feel so lucky that we are still friends and that my husband is understanding about the friendship. And yes I too wonder now and then what might have been if I had taken that road further instead.

  4. Cheri says:

    Love this, Carol! ❤️

  5. People always say never to look back, but I disagree. I think it’s important to know where we came from and how we got to where we are so that we can make peace with it.

  6. I find this exceptionally moving, Carol. Thank you for sharing. A bittersweet mulling of options not taken, roads left unwalked. Seems you made the right choice… for everyone. ♥

  7. I think we’ve all gone back in time to think about the what ifs. It’s great if it can put closure on a decision and make you realize you’re happy with the one you made. Thanks for sharing your own story.

  8. Joely Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing, I feel a lot of people wonder this at times. I believe that we are all led to the path we end up on. For some, like myself that can take many decades and many other paths along the way. Everything happens for a reason – we just sometimes need decades to figure out what that reason is. Loved this post!

  9. Life is all about choices and decisions. Great post!

  10. Silly Mummy says:

    Beautifully put, and you have a great attitude towards the choices we make and the paths not followed.

  11. I sometimes think about the different scenarios I could have had and wonder why I made certain decisions, but it is what it is and there were so many amazing things that happened because of it.

  12. Gingermommy says:

    What a great post! You articulated the feelings behind it so well. It is so important that we have the same attitude towards the choice that we make in our lives. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Dogvills says:

    I think everyone of us still think about the what ifs. But as I always say, everything happens for a reason and those circumstances helped shaped what I am today.

  14. ricci says:

    Such a deep and personal post. I am 34 and single and haven’t had kids yet. Sometimes I wonder if I ever will?

  15. Ronnie says:

    That was a nice story. 🙂 Very emotional and real and it’s so easy to empathize with your truth. I too had a similar experience with a ghost from the past. Back when we dated, as far as I was concerned, he was the one. But we lived in separate countries at the time, we were in different phases of our lives, and there were too many negatives in the relationship. Two years ago, he reached out to me – I was of course, shocked but as we caught-up on the phone, I remembered our amazing chemistry. He told me then that as the years went by, he recognized that I was always the one and he felt that since we both matured, if we gave ourselves a second chance, we could make our relationship work out. Like you, I had taken a different path a long time ago. I was already building my life with someone else, a partner I wouldn’t give up for the world. Sometimes I too wonder what could have happened, but I know deep-down it wouldn’t have worked out long-term.

  16. Czjai says:

    Thought-provoking post. 🙂 I also have a few what-ifs in my life, though I have no regrets with all the decisions that I have made to get to where I am now. 🙂

  17. sara says:

    You are such a great storyteller. I am so glad that you got this call out of the blue. You never know why things happen, but they always happen for a reason.

  18. Kelly Reci says:

    Every right decisions require good action. Maybe, most of the time we do things that are not right so we came up with bad results. But the thing is we tried to do something. We didn’t lie on ‘what if’s’ we may not find the reason of some things that happen to us, but it is sure that we will know it someday.

  19. Julie Syl says:

    We all move in different path. Those paths may feel good at first but in the end, it becomes bad. Also there are paths that bad at first but becoming better as time goes by. We have to be patient because patience is the key.We met people worth waiting and struggling for. So with life, we must endure hardships that we are going through along the path that we have chosen.

  20. Amandeep says:

    I never regret any of my decisions as it was the best option for me then and even now.
    We sometimes crib about not taking the other road thinking it would have been better, which is always a presumption. We might have been even worse down the other road.

  21. Gabriel Bregg says:

    I wonder about this type of thing a lot. I’ve often said I wish that I could have drinks with all the other mes living in parallel universes to see how all the different lives I could have led played out.

  22. Elizabeth O says:

    Yes. There are paths we took that we regret at the end. But we have to move on from it because we never know that we are now on the right path.

  23. Natasha says:

    I’m not one to dwell on the past or to ponder on the what if…my motto just keep moving forward. I do like how you’ve thought through this though.

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