I think about this …

I think about this sometimes, how much of life is really just comprised of aptly timed accidents. How we work so hard planning and strategizing and everything else when those skills are illusory life tools at best. How we like to believe we’re in total control of our situations, but when things start to happen, really happen, when things suddenly start to pulse and detonate all over the place, what we really need to know how to do is adapt, fall off the ledge and land safely on our feet. I think about this too, how nearly every valuable thing I’ve hit upon in life has been the result of some kind of lucky or horrible accident. And how completely awesome yet unflinchingly absurd that is.

I think about this sometimes, what it would have been like if we had worked out. If I had chosen you instead of not-you. Would you still be saying all those sweet things and making large-scale projections about our idyllic future? Would you still be sending me new songs to listen to every day and notebooks through the mail? Would I still idealize you just as much? I don’t know. Part of me likes to think we could have been happy if given the option but the other part has a feeling we would have cracked right down the middle, your neuroses were what I liked about you but maybe your neuroses plus my neuroses would have been too many. We’ll never know at this point, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it.

I think about this sometimes, what it would be like to have a second, completely separate life to live alongside this one, just for fun. Just to test out the various potentialities present-day me will never get to realize, like becoming an Olympic gymnast or finishing my neuroscience degree. I wonder if leading parallel lives would eventually get too crazy or whether I’d be able to switch between them, flip cleanly over from one to the other like a light switch. I wonder if parallel me would actually do anything different than what present-day me is doing. I wonder if parallel and present-day me would eventually converge. I wonder if wondering about this means I have too much time on my hands.

I think about this sometimes, what life would have been like if I had never met you. What it would have been like if you never came along when you did, never gave me whiplash, never crawled into my heart, if I hadn’t fallen for you or for anyone at all, just stayed blissfully unaware of love and heartbreak and their sides of horrible and delicious feelings. If I had never met you, I think I would have turned out different. Not better, but maybe more careful. More stable. Or maybe more clueless, relegated to making those high school mistakes in college and beyond instead. What I don’t like to think about is the fact that a part of me will always love you, and it’s nothing that logic or time can starve out. It’s like autumn happening in October or the recurrence of a particular time of day. It just is. And that’s it.

I think about this sometimes, what it would be like to start over, just shut down and reassemble, shed every single layer and do it again, differently. Quit everything, sell everything, pack up and disappear without a trace or a last goodbye. It’s a tempting idea that’s constantly in the back of my head, but I never actually act on it because I have a pretty strong feeling (or strong literary evidence, rather) that that kind of move usually and/or always ends in disillusionment. But that doesn’t mean I’m not tempted. In fact I’m pretty sure the temptation has evolved into a sort of coping mechanism: when things get really awful all I tell myself is “you could leave if you wanted,” and for some reason knowing that, repeating that makes me feel more capable.

– Mila Jaroniec

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