My wife and I paid a visit to a friend of ours, Ms. 8 in tow. It was a good visit, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly; little Ms. 8 was the star of the show. Even better, on the way back from the visit, my wife and I had a bit of time to talk quietly, as we were alone and Ms. 8 was asleep; we discussed what it was that we had seen in one another beginning nearly nine years ago, now, that led us to fall in love and end up as Mr.--now Dr.--and Mrs. And I, at least, found myself contemplating what my life would be like had I not fallen for and pursued her as I did, all else being equal. (I figure that the choices I made before I got to know her would have been the same.)
I cannot help but think that I would be achingly, groaningly alone--because I was before I met her. I went from home to school to work to home, rarely going anywhere else unless to get groceries of buy another book. I did not go out and meet people, as a rule; I largely held myself aloof from them (and still tend to do so, actually). I would have probably continued to do so, cursing myself for my loneliness all the way and doing little or nothing to change things. I would almost certainly not have gone to The City, and I was enriched by my doing so (although I look back and realize that I did not do nearly so much there as I ought to have done--typically) I would probably not have been able to do my dissertation, or to have done it as I did. Maybe I would have the job I currently have, and it would probably be better financially (my pay would be pretty good for a family of one), but it would be at the cost of being alone.
It is not a happy line of thought. It is one that put me in mind of something I wrote in this webspace some months ago in which I make reference to a captain and a lieutenant, junior grade, who are the same man in different realities. I still have to wonder if I am wearing the blue against someone else's more accomplished red, but I can glimpse in some other creation one lesser yet--for if I am a junior officer, I at least hold an office, and I can see a self not myself that is not so fortunate. I can see another me that did not move on, who is still locked in where I was, and who has passed from that place into one much darker and more despairing. (I have written of having had disturbing thoughts.) Much as I may gnaw on the bones of what might have been had I done, I am at least not wholly futile. I have at least some recognition and expertise, some place in which I cannot be replaced--and I owe it to my wife.