I should have asked the blonde girl out.
Science fair, 7th grade year. Me and my project partner talking to her and her project partner. Subject of the dance set for that week in middle school comes up. Blonde girl’s friend whispers something to her, they look at me, and they giggle.
I freeze. I chicken out. I blow it.
I’m very happily married now to a different blonde girl. We have been married 15 years and have five wonderful children together. I feel like God has me with the person he designed for me before the world ever began. I don’t talk to her anymore, but I know the blonde girl from middle school is married, too, and she seems very happy. I have no doubt everything worked out the way it was supposed to.
So why does that one particular moment of my life still pop into my mind every now and then?
Actually, my inability to ask out my equivalent of Charlie Brown’s red-haired girl is not the only episode from my past that I still think about. I still remember the time I popped out to end my Park League baseball game. I still remember the time I had a chance to work for the campus newspaper but didn’t accept it. I still remember not buying my dog a new doghouse the day he was run over by a truck and killed last year.
I remember them all. Every goof, every slip-up, every mistake, every lack of courage, every inadequacy, every regret. They don’t fade. They just sit there, waiting for an opportune time to come crawling out of the shadows of my mind again. I wonder what would have happened if I had done this or done that, even though there is no way to ever know the answers to those questions.
I know every one of these situations played out exactly the way they were supposed to. I can find positives that came out of every experience I perceived as being negative at the time.
And I would go back and try to change every one of them because I believe I did something wrong.
Guilt is a funny thing. It doesn’t seem to have an expiration date. And it doesn’t seem to have any logic to it sometimes. Has anyone else ever given me flack in the present day for something I failed to do over 20 years ago? No. So it would seem the source of any bad feelings related to these events would be yours truly. And good luck convincing him to call off the dogs.
I’m starting to think the reason I can’t stop thinking about some of these things is because I feel as if I need to fix them. Not so much because I think the outcomes were wrong, but more along the lines that I feel like I failed somehow in each instance. Didn’t take my shot here, didn’t do what I should have there. If only I’d taken that chance…
The fact is, though, those moments are gone forever, and there is no way to know if my self-perceived way of “fixing” them would have actually made a positive difference anyway. The blond girl never really went for guys like me. I was never much of a hitter anyway. My dog could have still run into the road, whether he had a nice, new house to sleep in or not. What happened, happened, and where I am now is where I was meant to be all along.
It’s possible I totally misread the science fair situation. There is a distinct possibility the blonde girl and her partner were snickering at how goofy I looked back then (And, believe me, they would have been totally justified in doing so.). It’s possible they were actually whispering about my partner. It’s a definite, though, that I won’t ever know the answer to any of these questions, and that’s okay.
I never liked going to dances anyway.