Looking over my shoulder, I catch a glimpse of the roads I've not taken. No wonder I often feel haunted; there are a lot of them. In certain time spans, I seemed to be presented with a life-altering choice a week, and I see myself striding fearlessly forward – Well, it is said that only a fool knows no fear.
With such a plethora of material to pick from, I choose to go back to the mid 1970s, when my plans were made to leave Boston and move to Texas with a friend/room mate. Instead of this, I married a pleasant-enough young man and moved to New Hampshire. But what if I had gone through with my plan? Looking down that ghostly, non-taken road, I see:
I was working as assistant to two editors in a technical publishing house in Boston, and had been doing my research on jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It looked promising. Cornelia had family in Shreveport, LA, not more than an hour away, so we felt we had enough local backup, without anyone breathing down our necks.
When I found the cost of moving large objects to Texas prohibitive, I held a week-long MOVING Sale, grossing over $2500 (which, in 1974 was substantial). We bought a used and battered Volkswagon minibus for $375, packed our remaining belongings into (and onto) it, and hit the road, south.
Our immediate destination was my roommate's family home in Shreveport, LA. We made this our base of operations while taking day trips over to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. It turned out that the boom in the area made jobs easy to find; housing, not so much, but we finally found a partially renovated barn loft, in an unincorporated area, called Audelia, northeast of Dallas.
Our new home had plumbing (sort of), a walled-off area that we hesitated to call a bathroom, and space … lots of space. A year later, we had a real home, jobs, laughable bank accounts and lots of funny stories about trying to asphyxiate ourselves with a space heater, plumbing the shower backwards, etc.
Looking back from almost forty years, I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't gotten that job promoting Townes Van Zandt's school for singer-songwriters. I'd never have turned my own hand to writing country music: wouldn't have met and married Niel or lost him just ten years later in a tractor accident; wouldn't have eleven platinum records on my wall, or my own recording studio and my grand-daughter wouldn't be getting ready to marry one of the biggest names in country music.
What if I'd gone off and married that good-natured hippy pot-head who wanted me to go “back to the land” with him in New Hampshire (For the life of me, I can't remember his name.). Imagine! Winter isn't exactly warm here in Texas, but, man it is COLD in New Hampshire.
This week's challenge: what would have been or should have been.
It is New Year's Eve. What could be a better time to hash out what should have been and what would have been had we done this or that. Well, don't find yourself with a would-have-been essay next week. Get crack'n.