It's adolescent. It's a waste of time. It's depressing and silly and ultimately leads to nothing. But I'm doing it.
I learned yesterday that a woman I know is getting her PhD and will be teaching college level courses. I have been watching her kids for the last 2 years. While I've been wiping boogers and breaking up arguments and picking up toys and pleading for nap time, she has completed her Master's degree, gained another teaching certification, and - as of yesterday - been asked by the powers that be to pursue her PhD and teach community college in the meantime.
So, what I've been wasting my time with for the last 18 hours or so is imagining my life with other choices. I imagine having a magical TV that allows me to go to any point in my past where I've had to make a choice and see what would happen if I made a different one. I could find out what would have happened if I chose to go to a different college. Or if I didn't transfer after my sophomore year. Or if I stayed in Philly after college and kept working for Fresh Air.... My life would look nothing like it does now. These big questions scare me and fascinate me and make me happy and sad and.... well, you know.
But other, more recent choices, with outcomes that are slightly easier to fathom, can be interesting, too.
What if we stayed in LA a little longer? We would not have come to work at camp and we would not have become teachers and... oops! Too big. Freaking me out. Gotta go more recent.
What if we had kept the house in Wolfeboro? The small house with the small mortgage. What if we still lived there and had a decent buffer between our income and our expenses? We'd be crowded. Tommy would be going to a different school.... I don't know if I would still be teaching.
Speaking of which, what if I had sucked it up and kept teaching? I'd be miserable and feel overworked and stressed out. But we would have a lot more money. And I would have co-workers to commiserate with. Elliott would be in daycare someplace and maybe less needy. Tommy would be in Kindergarten at the same school with me. I can't decide if that would be good or bad.
What if we had bought a different car? One that, like, didn't break down all the time and had functioning A/C.... Well, I think if we bought a car that functioned like that we'd still be paying for it, that's for sure.
What if I cleaned my house last night instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself? Not worth thinking about. The kids would have trashed the place by now anyway.
I know watching the "What If" channel would be bad for me. I would sit around and watch the other versions of my life like some people watch Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives.... But I can't help wishing I could see it. Just for a minute.
P.S. It occurred to me on my run today... 8 miles I really didn't feel like getting up for and that I was, of course, so glad that I DID get up for.... that if I was completely satisfied with my "career" choices there's no way I would be running like I am. It's the one thing I have control over. So, there's that, anyway.