Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Susan Across the Ocean

I started this post about two weeks ago (shortly after the evening described), but was interrupted and forgot about the draft in progress until now. I suppose that's one way to have a blog topic handy.

A couple of weeks ago at the linguistics happy hour (Yes, a computer scientist and her physicist husband hang out with linguists. These things happen.), a conversation about music veered off into the land of "what might have been". One of the guys brought up a song he liked, called Susan Across the Ocean, about a man thinking back to a love of his youth and wondering, although he was happy with his life and his wife, what would have happened if he had made a different choice. The question is: do you have a "Susan Across the Ocean"? The results were rather mixed amoung the group.

The original fellow told a tale of the short relationship he had one summer when he was younger and living on a friend's couch. It had ended when one of them moved away, before either of them could discover what a jerk the other one was. (He's a bit cynical.)

A well-travelled student had left many "Susans" all over the world, or perhaps he is their "Susan", since he was the one who ended up leaving to return to the States.

Others denied having a "Susan" in their pasts, either from lack of relationships or because of a solid break in the relationship.

I initially didn't think I had a "Susan", since for the most part, I have had some contact after the end of the relationship, giving me some idea of what might have been had we continued. However, upon further consideration, I do have several points in my life where I could have taken a different path (not all involving a romantic relationship). I am happy with my life, but sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had made different choices. My imagination is good enough that I can imagine a valid path from my other options (at least for a while. I can't predict my future in this timeline, much less a whole multiverse of them.)

What would my life be like if I...
  • ...had been bolder?
  • ...applied to a different set of schools?
  • ...didn't put off deciding for so long?
  • ...didn't oversleep that day?
  • ...went out that time I stayed home?
  • ...stayed home that time I went out?
When my mind wanders, I sometimes ponder an of my life, often finding a way to end up at about the same place by a different path.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great song. really really poignant. the what-ifs & roads not taken & hindsight can haunt a life.