My 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…
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.