While it’s often fashionable to dwell upon what might have been, Shaz, what’s usually overlooked is that really and truly, it couldn’t have.
Because, invariably, any romanticized versions of how things “might have been,” are based upon fictionalized versions of the past.
– The Universe
Bowling is not as easy as it looks. And there’s certainly nothing glam about the footwear. But there I was, at a buddy’s 45th birthday party, bowling, first up, desperately trying to remember if I could handle this. Sure, thinking back…I took bowling in college for the “pass” in physical-ed — and I beat my kids at the game just a couple of decades ago… I can handle this. I can handle this. I can handle this… I ordered a beer (seemed appropriate).
Determined (and hoping to impress), I stuck my three fingers into the holes of the old familiar heavy ball, lined up my feet and mustered up focused concentration looking for the little painted arrows I could no longer see without my glasses. Somewhere out there, there were 10 wobbly pins waiting for me to knock them down. Bending only slightly (because bending more than slightly is scary), memory kicked in and my inner voice advised “keep your hand straight up when you let go” and…
YES! The first roll knocked over just enough to make me look like a player. Strutting back to pick up my now “lucky” ball, I could feel “the cocky” creeping in to my psyche… that Casey at the bat with bases loaded… that glimmer of youthful athletic prowess. Only three pins left standing…And then the second roll — and more than a few gutter balls several turns afterwards, my place in last place was secured. Loser/Lou-zer!
There’s just no hiding behind the bowling ball. Once you let it go, you either strike, spare, knock over a few — or suffer the consequences of defeat. The loser part was humbling and oh-so-humiliating since Bond, James (my slightly younger beau) was among the guests –and scored the highest. Drinking helps.
I hadn’t bowled in years of course… But I thought I was pretty good at it. I remember those moments of suspense, bending and twisting in the direction my ball was going… (or wasn’t going??) as a kid, and then passing through my teens and finally, as a parent, when it became a rainy day weekend family activity. My hand-eye coordination was better in those days… Multi-tasking my brain with the fine details of bowling with grace and form, I faced those lanes with confidence, flirted with my markers, s-t-r-o-d-e into the knee dip — and scored. Or that’s how I remembered it. But apparently I need a few filters in those rose colored glasses I’m so fond of wearing…
The rug slipped out from under me last week when I heard that my 8-year-on-again-off-again BF moved back to the middle of the Midwest to be with his college sweetie, the woman who crushed his heart decades ago — which undoubtedly led him to crush so many others. His adult children, all of whom live here in NYC, are shaking their heads in disbelief, but I get it. It’s just not that unusual at our age to trip back down Memory Lane and reach out to people who remember our youth, our parents. What better place to “feel safe” than in the bosom of old memories from a less complicated time… imagining how things might have been, if only….
But are we delusional, or is it possible that in this passage of wisdom and perspective, we can go back and rectify the one mistake we think we made, that might have changed the course of our journey?
The jury is out on the verdict of their reuniting, but Emma and Vegas are reaching for the same end goal. They fell in love when they were younger, too. He took a different path — and she never found anyone to fill in the gaps, long-term. Unlike my old BF, they stayed connected all these years and now Vegas wants to give their relationship a shot. Is Emma who he’s really meant to be with forevermore? And dare she begin to live the dream she’s dreamt for so long?
Hey, I’ve been curious too and spent more than a few crazy moments, nonchalantly searching for long lost loves on the internet, fantasizing about flames from my past, sensing them to be more trust worthy than the new loves who were in my present at the time. But is all this day-dreaming, day-tripping? Does the reality of co-habitating eventually sour the romantic “story” of lost-love and re-found?
Interestingly enough, Bond,James actually married his high school sweetheart – and after living in the same house for over 20 years, they grew apart. When his marriage ended, his fantasies were about women other than the girls he knew back in the small town he grew up in. So having lived his “might have been” — he’s happy in the present, plotting out a very different future. Go figure!
I don’t pretend to understand why some go after the memory of first love and others don’t. I suspect some of it is a result of way too many Hallmark commercial downloads onto our hard drives along with our childlike longing for a fairy tale ending.
For a moment, standing there then (in those awful shoes), I conjured up a memory of a younger me, as if I actually had some control over the outcome of that shot — but my bowling ball (and the old BF) veered way too far left, leaving me, ultimately, in last place. Regardless, I kept letting it go, twisting and turning as I watched it roll, hoping for the strike — or maybe a spare… It’s just the gutter balls that smart.
“Lou-zer(!), Lou-zer(!), Lou-zer(!)” my buddies chanted as I, pretending victorious, turned, faced them, and headed — arms up and hips swaying — back to my seat after my final debacle. We laughed and high-five’d. Nope, I can’t always win.
I may suck at bowling, but I’ve got other creds that outweigh my imperfections (we all do)… And bowling that night wasn’t about the game anyway; it was about the camaraderie. Everyone’s bowled before and some have bowled enough in the last decade or two to actually remember how to play the game. But the truth is, I was never really good at it, so it shouldn’t have surprised me when I won the Booby prize. I’m not done yet though, so who knows? With enough yoga or pilates, a new pair of glasses… maybe next time, I’ll win.
You see, Shaz, most of the time when people think the present could have been different than it is, it’s because they think the past was different than it was. Happily, the future can still be anything, when you surrender to the details (and who has to do what).
NOTE TO SELF: Throw out ice skates.