In a science fiction universe, a three-way choice creates three parallel realities. One is the what I really chose — this reality in which I live. But two parallel universes exist based on the choices I didn’t make. I can’t help but wonder what became of the other two-of-me.
Our road is full of side trips and detours. We make choices, but rarely between a less or more traveled road. It’s more often picking the path which will take us where we want to go. And there’s a small matter of figuring out where we want to go.
At 16, I started college and was required to choose a major. Clueless, I chose music because I loved playing the piano. I thought maybe I should pick something more practical too. In an elegant compromise, I became a music major with a comparative religion minor. Religion, the practical career alternative.
Except, I was really majoring in hanging out at the college radio station. Music was okay, but I wasn’t sufficiently dedicated — or talented — to make it my career. Religion was a dead-end. I already knew I was going to be a writer. Hanging out at the radio station gave me a chance to write and led to real writing jobs. Not to mention I met two out of three husbands to be. Not bad. None of my other courses were that productive.
Dodging and weaving through the first two years of school, there came an unavoidable day of reckoning. Even a dedicated procrastinator ultimately gets gored by the horns of a dilemma. The summer between my junior and senior year, I wound up at a three-way crossroads.
My old boyfriend — with whom I couldn’t have a civil conversation, but with whom I had exceptional sex — sent me a train ticket to join him at his summer stock theater on Cape May. A sexy summer by the sea was an attractive offer. Not a career maker, but it had perks, especially at 18. Meanwhile, back at the radio station, the guy I’d been dating asked me to marry him. I liked him. Smart. Educated. Employed. Good-looking in a waspy way. I could do worse.
And then there was Boston. Almost on a whim, I’d applied to Boston University’s Communications program. In 1965, Boston was as cool a town as a kid could want, short of San Francisco. Joan Baez sang at Harvard Square and the comedy clubs featured future kings of late night. Against all odds, Boston accepted me into the program. Nothing could have surprised me more.
I had a lot of deciding to do.
I married Jeff. Garry’s best friend. Four years later, there was my son, Owen Garry, because Garry is not only Owen’s step-father but also his godfather. Don’t over-think it.
The old boyfriend refused to stay gone. Like the proverbial bad penny, he would keep turning up for 15 more years. He would follow me to Israel when I dumped everything and emigrated there in 1978. Another story for another day.
Marrying Jeff gave me a son, a career, a chance to finish my B.A. and find my feet in a reasonably secure environment. I made friends, got a career going and figured out what I wanted to do. Not too shabby.
But somewhere there are two other universes. In one, Marilyn went to Boston. In the other, she went to Cape May. If I happen to bump into either of them, I’ll have to ask how it went. I bet all of us married Garry. Destiny is unavoidable.
Roads converge. Detours don’t change destiny. They merely delay it.