A few days ago I had a thought that was going to turn into an article. Interestingly, between the day I thought of it and now that I am about to write it down, it has turned on its head, as some things are apt to do.
I was thinking about a particular event in my life. When my friend got married in 2017, I was newly single. Since I had been with my ex since the age of 15, I had never really attended a wedding with anyone else for my plus one. I was excited at the novelty of it, till I asked someone who I thought was a close friend to accompany me and he looked shocked that I even suggested it. He was Italian and I found out later that traditionally, in Italy, you would only ever ask someone to a wedding if you were engaged to them. No wonder his reaction was harsh!
Next I asked someone who I knew liked me a lot and he quickly said that yes he would come with me, of course yes. He even told me how he would leave the car next to the reception hall and catch a taxi back if he drank too much. One or two weeks later, I was at a point where I was panicking about my guest getting drunk and making a fool of himself and me both. The Universe intervened and cancelled our plan and I found myself asking a third friend to accompany me. I was practically sure that this person would say yes. We were good friends, enjoyed each other’s intelligent company and would make a good duo if only for appearances’ sake. Surprisingly, he turned me down, saying he hated weddings so I’d better hang out with someone else.
With the day fast approaching and being no closer to finding my plus one than I was at putting my lenses in without wasting half a packet of disposables in the process, I met someone new, when I least expected it. With the calendar counting down to what were only a few days at this point, I asked this person whether he would accompany me to the reception and he said he would give me a reply one day before. I was not going to miss one of my then best friends’ weddings regardless of whether I had to turn up alone but in the end, the fourth knight in shining armour followed through.
But was he actually a knight? Or more of a knave?
I hate judging people, just as I hate being judged. So I don’t really ever put anyone in a bad light if I can help it, least of all the people who mean a lot to me. However I can’t help but wonder, how my life would have turned out had he not accompanied me that day.
In every scenario, with each of the four different young men, I would likely have experienced the wedding always in a different way. Granted it wasn’t my wedding, but each and every guest at any social event is going to interact with all the rest of the people present, and mostly with their own plus one. As it turned out, that night remains imprinted into my memory as vividly as the photos that another friend took of us.
Sometimes I feel it was a lucky night, that I had hit the jackpot, remember it romantically and look at the photos convinced that no experience in my life would ever overshadow it. Other times, I wish that night had never happened and that I would not have to live the pain of loss that comes from remembering a good time with someone that must be left firmly in the past.
Truly, every moment of every day in life can go a zillion different ways. However, whichever one it is that actually makes it to be written down as part of our past, it invariably shapes our future from then onwards. All our good memories and even all our regrets, form part of the series of events that led us to where we are right now. Change just one little detail and likely all the following moments will come crashing like a house of cards.
I do not mean to say you should look back fondly on things gone wrong, or even berate yourself for the choices made when you did not yet know the outcome they would bring about. If anything, save the knowledge for future use, in order to never purposely repeat past mistakes.
Sometimes I wish I knew how my life would have turned out had my white-shirted handsome date of that night not accompanied me after all. But I guess I will never know now, unless I travelled back to change the past.