There are so many moments where I wished. I wish I’d said this, or held on longer. If only. If I’d opened my mouth. If I turned around. If I stared back instead of away. So many of my wishes are about what I didn’t do, instead of wishing I hadn’t done something. I suspect that’s the case with most. Wishing for less is regret. Wishing for more is hope. You can always do either tomorrow. I guess I’d rather occasionally wish I hadn’t instead of regularly wishing I had.
Tonight, at McDangerous, on my way home, I almost met a man. I was on line, about to order for a family of three, for just me, when we touched slightly, I whipped around and apologized. When I turned, we stared at one another. His eyes were so blue. I wanted to tell him so. You don’t talk that way to strangers, especially at McDangerous come 10:30pm on a Tuesday night. So I faced forward, instead of looking back, working out my next decision. His eyes were so blue.
After I ordered, I stepped aside. He stepped beside me. We looked at one another again. I was older. I stepped aside. I watched him, though, and he knew it. I noticed one of his flip flops was green and plastic, the other a brown Reef made of fabric. I laughed. He looked up, saw what I was laughing at and said, “I lost one.”
“Seems that way.” We both looked at my shoes.
“You know it’s tradition to trade. I’ll trade you one of mine for one of yours.”
I thought of saying he’d be trading up, but thought that meant too much, in the wrong way. “I doubt mine would fit you,” I countered. “But then again, I could be wrong; it wouldn’t be a first.”
“It wouldn’t be a first, a guy wearing your shoes?”
“No, that I’d be wrong.”
We both smiled, wondering what to say next. “Oh,” he said. Then his cheeseburger was called. “Have a good night,” he said.
Then my feast for a family was called. I loaded up on ketchup. He was gone. When I got outside, I noticed he had crossed the street. He was waiting for me, leaning against the traffic light. Waiting, looking at the entrance I’d just walked through. I knew he wanted to know where I’d go next. I smiled, and turned the corner, knowing home was in my future, despite the almosts, and all the trades in the world. I traded enough growing up, sandwiches, snacks, clothing at the end of camp. In that moment, when I turned the corner, I felt like a married man. A man with options, weighing possibilities, but who at the end of the day knew his way home.