what if?

iphone stephanie klein 7

What if‘s get us in trouble. It doesn’t matter how noble our intentions, how playful we are, at the end of it all, "what if" is just another way of saying, "Maybe I chose wrong." Or, "Maybe you chose wrong." Either way, someone is wondering "what if?" What if we’d never met, or never agreed to be a we. What if she and I had never broken up, what if he and I never had that fight? We all know, though, at the end of the day, we did have that fight, we did say those things that lead to our saying we didn’t mean those things, which lead to a new, awkward place that neither of us was willing to really sidestep. So we just left it at that.

But what if "what if" isn’t just a lazy sad excuse to excuse us from our now? What if "what if" is a recognition of what we actually did wrong, of what we wish we hadn’t done or said? What if "what if" is the ultimate apology, and it’s our way of saying, "I did choose wrong."

We’re quick to say "everything happens for a reason," quick to want to snatch rose-colored glasses off our friends who remember the past so fondly, who talk in "what if’s" and beg for a bitch-slapping. But what if we broke things off because of fear? What if our questioning "what if" is the "happens for a reason?" What if simply the act of questioning what would have happened if you hadn’t chosen the way you did is the "meant to be" in the equation. What if we were meant to question our past WRONG decisions? What if we were foolish in the past, if those glasses aren’t tinted, what if we were really meant to be with our first love? What if we let it all slip away, believing the first couldn’t ever be the one, but now we know better and are stuck on a plane of regret, wishing we could go back to that moment where it’s our choice to choose, and we choose differently? What if we have the chance to right our wrongs? Think we’ll end up in a sliding doors film, with the same destination, just different routes? Or do those summer decisions made once upon a time ago actually matter?



  1. I had to face that exact thing last year in the most remarkable circumstances, when my first ex-husband contacted me 28 years after our divorce. We remarried in July. On what would have been our 37th wedding anniversary.

    We believe this opportunity to right the wrongs of our youth is a gift. But it ain’t easy. We have 28 years of completely different lives between us. The good thing is that we still have the love. And I have my memoir subject.

    i never would’ve dreamed this would happen. And sometimes I look over and can not BELIEVE it.

    Still, I wouldn’t change a thing about how it all rolled out, and I would’ve been ok even if this hadn’t happened. But now that it has, it’s the most interesting thing that’s happened in what’s been a very interesting life.

  2. I hate “what if” conversations and I love them all at the same time. You nailed this one right on the head.

  3. “What if” it was just happenstance that I read your article, or what if I had to pondered all the “what if’s” in my life? I think reflection is good, and it forces us to face possible poor decisions. Yet, hindsight is always 20/20 and what is done can not be erased; however, it CAN be learned from :)

  4. I kind of like “what if” mind games. It’s maybe to that useful to dwell on past decisions, but you need to know that there are “what ifs” in the future, or today. You can always choose a different path than the one you’re on. A strong faith in destiny is just a hindrance. You can absolutely change everything in one day.

  5. I had a “what if” from an old girlfriend of my husband happen to me. She was being destructive, since she’s married, but had dumped my husband 28 years ago and disappeared without a word. And suddenly at 50 had a what if moment and tried to get him to run off to England with her on her book tour without any spouses. But somehow it turned out to have good consequences (he said no) and made me rethink a few things about myself, do some self-improvement work and eventually strengthened my marriage. I have no idea if it helped or hurt hers. Somehow I doubt her husband ever knew anything.

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