I’m still reeling over a conversation I had with a friend at my book club the other night.
In passing I said something about wondering what your life would be like if you’d never had kids. She looked at me as if I had inadvertently started reciting ancient Sanskrit texts about cheesemaking.
She said she never did anything like that.
She must have misunderstood me. “You’ve never come upon a car accident and been thankful that you stopped to tie your shoe or else it could have been you t-boned in the intersection?”
“You’ve never pictured how your life would be now if you’d gone to a different college or grown up in a different town or been born a different race … or … or?”
I’m still stunned because I think about things like that forty-leven times a day.
What if my boys hadnâ€™t been in marching band in high school? I wouldnâ€™t have met her or been in this book club.
What if my oldest son hadnâ€™t worked a crap retail job where he met a kid who joined the Navy? He wouldnâ€™t have joined and wouldn’t have worked in emergency medicine to find out how much he loved it. Plus, my younger son wouldnâ€™t have joined and therefore wouldnâ€™t have been in Guam to meet and marry his lovely wife. And what if she hadn’t joined the Navy?
What if we hadnâ€™t taken that vacation to the Pacific northwest? My daughter wouldnâ€™t have fallen in love with the area, wouldnâ€™t be living there now, and wouldnâ€™t have met and married her lovely husband. And what if they didn’t have the mutual friend who introduced them at her birthday party? What if she decided not to have that party?
What if Iâ€™d have chosen a different college? I wouldnâ€™t have met hubs or created those amazing creatures we call our children.
Those questions never end for me and it honestly never occurred to me that everyone doesn’t do the same thing.
My family will attest to the fact that Iâ€™m a planner. I love lists and any/all methods of organization. I ALWAYS have a contingency plan. Iâ€™ve seen those people on the side of the highway with a flat tire on their way to the airport. I ALWAYS know who I can call to rescue me in any situation.
Lest you think I’m a complete whackjob, because I fear it’s beginning to show, this doesnâ€™t preoccupy all my thoughts and actions. But I take comfort in knowing regardless of what the universe throws at me, I have a way (often several) to cope.
Of course, who’s to say that your life would be better or worse if one little butterfly flapped his wings differently? It’s all utterly unknowable, and maybe that’s the draw for me.
In my novels I tend to explore the issue of a perfectly ordinary someone thrown into extraordinary circumstances. What will they do? What would I do?
In Banana Bamboozle, a slightly overweight middle-aged woman sees a girl she is convinced is her niece, even though the niece died as an infant.
In Marshmallow Mayhem, she and her cohorts stumble on a dead body.
In the new mystery I’m *thisclose* to finishing, a midlist mystery writer is pulled kicking and screaming into a murder investigation that hits way too close to home.
What would I do? What would you do?
And for years I’ve been noodling over a novel about the seemingly inconsequential choices we make every single day that could lead to either your best day or your worst, if only you veered left instead of right. Guess what the working title is? Yep … “What If?”
The concept fascinates me. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer.
What about you … do you ever play the ‘What If’ game? Do you think I’m a complete whackjob? Because of this or all the other weird stuff you might know about me?