Its Monday. According to my blogging schedule I should be artfully sculpting a writing-based post. But its also a national holiday so I’m going to make that as some kind of free pass.
Plus its my blog and not yours so I can do what the cripe I like.
In the late 90s a very funny British comedian called Victoria Wood wrote a very funny British sitcom called dinnerladies. I can’t go into details right now because otherwise I’ll never stop quoting bits and pieces and generally coming over all fanboy. Which I am, but there you go. Anyway, there was a scene where one of the characters is reading a magazine and another character is asking her what’s on TV that afternoon. She looks and says “Regrets.” Which cues a discussion about a TV movie called Regrets which is either about a woman who had a baby as a teenager, had it adopted and now regrets it, or about a woman who’s left it too long to have a family. (Possibly not as fun to watch as the film about this woman whose husband died and then a few years later found his sperm in the freezer hiding behind the arctic roll.)
It doesn’t matter either way as she’s not put her glasses on and its actually Rugrats.
Now, in my almost 34 years of life I’ve done a fair amount of things that other people have regretted. Such as kissing their boyfriends. Or kissing somebody who wasn’t my boyfriend. Or drinking too much (usually before the kissing). Or buying the wrong thing. Or saying the wrong thing. Or, upon occasion, simply being the wrong thing. But, at the risk of sounding like some kind of sociopath, or just an arrogant tosser, there’s nothing really that I regret.
I say “nothing really” because I could, if I had to, list a handful of things that, upon reflection, I probably shouldn’t have done, or maybe opportunities presented that I should’ve taken – but nothing on that list would really fill me up with despondency or make me want to live my life over. However …
There’s always a but …
… This morning I was rumbling around my WordPress Reader under the “dinosaur” tag, getting very stressed out by the religious whack-jobs, when I found out about the Progressive Palaeontology Conference (via the very amusing The Dino Sirs). Turns out that Prog Pal is an annual get-together run by/with The Palaeontological Association for the benefit of early-career palaeontologists to enable them to network and show off their work and whatnot (grossly simplifying there). It also turns out that this year it was being held at the University of Southampton (i.e. not too crazy far from where I live).
[Incidentally, I also found Palaeocast – which, in its own words, is “an open broadcast of palaeontological information, a place where the beauty, diversity and complexity of the field can be conveyed and discussed in a digital format.” And is frigging excellent.]
And it got me to thinking and … yes … regretting. Not that I had a marvellous opportunity to become a palaeontologist and turned it down in order to become a cubicle farmer, but one of my dreams/goals I had as a teenage was to dig up dinosaurs, or at least in some way work in that field/quarry – arf arf. What happened to that dream? I’m not sure. Somewhere along the line I think it got shifted to “unachievable pipe-dream” rather than “acceptable life choice”. I can’t give an answer that truly satisfies even me over what happened there. (Clearly, not going to university and then working for a large multi-national financial services company instead was a great and worthy undertaking.)
The purpose of sharing this is not to wallow in my own self-pity – quite frankly I find that sickening – or make anybody who reads this (is anybody there?) feel sorry for me and offer up pats on the head. Its just a story within my life. It is what it is. I’m now undertaking a university degree via correspondence course that has nothing to do with palaeontology. But …
… I can’t help but sometimes sit and think and feel slightly nauseous about that other life I might’ve lived.
When I was around 7 or 8 my parents decided that we’d move to the south of France (when I say “we” I mean my parents, one of my elder brothers and myself – my two eldest brothers would be staying in England). They found a house on the edge of a village called Capestang, sold their house in England and were all set to make the move. (Yes, I remember being dimly aware, in a far-off sense, that we’d have gone to school in France.) However, my father woke up on the morning of having to sign the last lot of paperwork and had a bit of a tit-fit and couldn’t go through with it.
But my other half and I have often talked about what my life would’ve been like had the move happened (and by “often” I mean once or twice). In a slightly sarcastic way I decided that I’d’ve gone to l’Université de la Méditerranée in either Marseille or Aix-en-Provence and become a slightly debauched writer-cum-journalist with a passion for vintage sports cars and young oceanography students, eventually careering my old roadster off the cliffs somewhere along the Côte d’Azur before my 30th birthday.
Which, in a roundabout way, is kind of the point with regrets.
You can imagine your life all kinds of other ways, but you might’ve walked out of that meeting you missed, or away from that boy you never kissed, or out of that class you wanted to take and got hit by a bus. Or he might’ve turned into an abusive drunk. Or … or … or …
You never know.
No matter how toadstools* you might feel your life has become, and no matter how many regrets might come wiggling out of their holes like lizards in a tropical evening, there are ways and means of making the change.
One day, perhaps, I’ll get my dream of digging up dinosaurs. Its important to not give up altogether.
*Another dinnerladies reference, I’m afraid … Victoria Wood’s character is searching for a word and says “… what is it? Not toadstools … Disenchanted…” It has now entered the personal lexicon of mine and a few friends.