A Parallel Universe
I did that thing that you aren't supposed to do--I googled an old love interest. The one I used to spend hours in coffee shops with, smoking cloves, imagining the great things we were going to do. I was going to write a book that changed the world. He was going to go forth and bring down the Man.
His first book is being published this autumn.
I love my life. It is incredibly rich and full of friends, of creativity, of laugher, of the two most gorgeous children and most beloved husband I could have ever dreamt for myself. But it is a small life, filled with the same stereotypes we used to rally against. I inhabit this strange parallel universe where I am the person I never wanted to be. Its not entirely uncomfortable, but its not comfortable either. I am woman, hear me cook and clean.
I remember reading a study about health inequality when I worked in Public Health. The basic premise was a powerful one: absolute deprivation can only go so far to account for poor outcomes in health and well being. Relative deprivation (ie if a deprived household sits next to a wealthy one) plays an enormous role in well-being, particularly mental health.
Isn't that the truth? I am happily content to go about my life and business as long as I don't compare my self to others. I can be quietly proud of my blog, as long as i stay away from Twitter and league tables and blogs about blogging. I can be happy in my little house, as long as I don't read Country Living magazine. I happy with the structure and shape of my days as long as I stay away from parenting books. I am content in my life, as long as I don't hold it too closely to what might of been.
After I read all about the wonders of Former Love Interests career, it was time to make yet another meal. I stood at the sink and imagined my life in this parallel universe. In it, I probably smoke too much, have short choppy hair, possibly of a primary colour. I may not have children, but spend my days doing something charitably trendy. Maybe I have a tattoo. Maybe I am vegan. I probably live in Minneapolis.
And then my thoughts turn to the parallel lives of my family. I wonder who adopted Icarus the Cat from that crazy drunk woman in Twyford if it wasn't me. I wonder if Kevin is a theatre director. I wonder if the landlord would've sold this house by now if they didn't have us as stable tenants. I wonder if the incredible force of nature that is Ellis would have been born to someone else.
I couldn't tell you if its regret or if its simply curiosity...its possibly both. But its kind of hung around for a couple of days, making me feel a bit sad and absent.
Two paths diverged in a yellow wood and I took the one most travelled by...I followed a man to another country. I got married at 23. I have 2 children. Work part time. Problems with extended family confound the issue and make me wonder if I've made some heinous mistake choosing this path. Much of it is the same anxiety that surrounds many expats, but seeing my parallel universe so clearly stirred up a lot of the crud that normally settles to the bottom.
The irony is of course, when I try to picture what else I would be doing right now, I can't. My days would be filled with everything I have: photography, knitting, cooking, children, Kevin. But it doesn't change this twinge of feeling like I've let myself down.
As my plumber often says (he's very wise and our heating keeping breaking), you always make the right decision at the time, so there's no point in looking back. Indeed. And you shouldn't google anyone...