Life is a path with many forks. When you choose one, the others continue to exist and for each turn not taken, a separate reality based on the choice you didn’t make is created. If we had the right magic — or physics — we could go back and explore those other realities. It might be interesting, or horrifying.
During the summer between my junior and senior year, I got a three-way choice.
Door number one. My old boyfriend — with whom I could not have a civil conversation, but with whom I had exceptional sex — sent me tickets to join him on Cape May for the summer. After which, anything could happen. At 18, it was a surprisingly attractive offer.
Door number two. The guy I’d been dating asked me to marry him. I liked him. I don’t think anyone would classify it as deathless romance, but it was a serviceable, sturdy kind of relationship. Building-a-life kind of love.
Door number three. I was accepted as a transfer student to Boston University. They had (still have) a terrific program in communications. I wanted that degree … and to be in Boston. In the 1960s, Boston was a super cool town, unlike very uncool Hempstead.
It was a lot of deciding.
I chose to get married. Not the most thrilling choice, but it gave me a safe harbor to finish school, start a career, break out of my parent’s control — all of which were important for me. It was not just marriage. It was emancipation.
Was it the “just right” choice? Your guess is as good as mine. We make choices based on who we are at the time of choosing, plus what we want, know, or guess about the future.
I made a sane choice, a reasoned choice. One I thought I could handle. It worked out. I haven’t put much time into wondering where the other paths might have led. It doesn’t matter. Here is where I am and I believe it’s where I ought to be.
It’s amusing to wonder if that summer was the beginning of three realities, two of which exist on other planes, somewhere in the time-space continuum. “Out there” is a Marilyn who went to Boston, another who went to Cape May.
If I ever bump into them, I’ll have to make sure and ask me how it went.