January 25, 2007
Bygones
K Number 1, if we had married, I'd probably be living in Southern California. I bet we'd have had the ceremony in our hometown and you would have sung at our wedding. Like that teal suit that plagued me through many a college formal, you'd have worn a non-traditional tuxedo for which I'd secretly resent you. I'd be a nagging wife who'd pester you to get a real job. I'd be a loving wife who repeatedly removed from its sacred place in her jewelry box the first ring you gave her when you knew she was the One. I would have been on the verge of breaking up with you over the years for your strange appreciation for Hootie and the Blowfish and a penchant for using slang in love letters. But I would be in awe of your passion for life and your love for your parents and your pick of the perfect engagement ring and your all-time amazing ability to disarm a woman with a kiss. If I had married you I would be a dog mom rather than a cat fiend. If I had married you I'd have been a widow at 29.

K Number 2, if I had married you, I'd probably be living on a street bearing your last name. We'd have a top-of-the-line gas grill and you'd probably coach a little league team. We'd likely travel out of state once a year, and when we did we'd bump heads as to whether it would be to Disney or Yellowstone. We wouldn't have gotten pregnant yet, but we'd hang out with high school friends who had a few little ones of their own. We'd have an in-ground pool and an SUV. We'd go to firehouse fundraisers and church on Sundays. On sweltering summer Fridays we'd make the age-old trek to the Jersey Shore and our neighbors there would know us by first names. At family cookouts I'd close the screen door behind me to find your mom standing alone in the kitchen, and we probably still wouldn't have much to say to one another even in the silence.

Dearest J, if we had gotten hitched, it would have been quite a wedding. Only after a series of hints and possible threats would you have gotten up the persuaded courage to propose to me, and when I told and retold the animated proposal story you would blush and slowly shake your downturned head. I'm pretty sure your bachelor party would have been broadcast on the Internet, and would have involved at least three different bail bondsmen. We'd have a baby boy and we'd live in Northern California. You'd be the most responsive husband and a wonderful father, the man who would go out once at 3 a.m. to appease my cereal craving and again at 3:30 when you confused Froot Loops with Apple Jacks. I would find myself often frustrated by your quiet nature but rewarded at the tiny bubbles of goodness and wit that would make their way to the surface during an odd expressive moment. If we were married it's safe to say I'd be drinking hard liquor.

C, if we had made it this far I think we'd be living in Tallahassee, still doing the grad school thing almost a decade after we both started. We would have been married in a Catholic church in DC, and I probably would not have met half the friends you invited to the wedding. I still wouldn't really know what happened in New Mexico. A good bit of our furniture would be from Ikea, and much to my mother's chagrin, we'd have gotten at least two large tents and a thankfully smaller chocolate lab as wedding presents. I'd force myself on a regular basis to eat seafood and not to use puns to excess. We'd go to Martha's Vineyard for our yearly trip and I would find it amazingly rewarding to see my sunburned cheeks in the annual family photo. I'd remain in awe of your ability to make perfect rice and completely amazed at what a good, good man I had found to put up with me. A good bit of the time our lives would be spent in complete silence.

R, if we had gotten married we'd be living in Alexandria, likely in a small house in the back roads of Del Ray. We'd be regulars at the local coffee house, me writing on my laptop and you reading about the latest social revolution. I'd be doubling up on birth control while you did exercises you'd found on the Internet rumored to make your sperm extra nimble. I'd watch you play inline hockey on Wednesday nights and wonder why I never really fit in with any of the other wives. I'd pray for you to get your front tooth fixed. I'd bake miniature rum cakes and take them to parties at which I'd wish for once you'd mingle. Instead, you'd mostly just sit, writing or singing or whatever it is you did in your own head, while I drank Chianti to excess and contemplated forcing myself on your coworker under the mistletoe.

I should probably stop there.

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51 Comments:

Blogger Brookelina said...

I love this!! It's brilliance is beyond measure.

Of course you know, I'll be stealing this idea.

Blogger Jürgen Nation said...

Also stealing. Kris, seriously, I think this is my favorite of all your posts, ever.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh heh heh liked that joke about marriage I sent, right *grin*?

Great post, Kris!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really love this, but I'm so afraid that if I did it more than half of them would include the words "drunk" or "Militant Baptist Compound in the Desert."

Anonymous Anonymous said...

fabulous! i hope it was a therapeutic and informative reflection for you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girl . . . we love you just the way you are.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To add to Megarita - we certainly do.

How about we drink hard liquor and Chianti to excess tonight??

You're wonderful!

Blogger Jorge said...

What, no "what if I married Dave post?

:)

It's nice to reflect on what could have happened.

For me, as selfish as it sounds, I'm happy that you are where you are and who you are. I don't know if we'd ever have met otherwise.

And what the hell happened to your anonyous comments? Now I have to dig out my apron profile pic...

AHEM!

Blogger Heather B. said...
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Heather said. I've read this twice and can't think of anything better to say.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just did this on my own blog - it was awesome to think about and how we are in the right place and the what if's are only practice and not reality.

Blogger Candace said...

That first one just punched me right in the gut.

Blogger Guinness_Girl said...

Oh! I LOVED this.

Blogger nicole said...

Isn't it great that things work out hte way they do? How lucky. xoxo

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly you are where you are supposed to be. I hate to think about how dull your blog might be if you were in another place. Fantastic, Kris.

Blogger PaintingChef said...

This is fantastic! I've never really taken a moment to think what my life wold have been like if I'd married any of the pre-Patrick contenders. Most likely they would all go like this... "If we had gotten married, we'd be divorced or you'd be dead. The End." Yours was better.

Anonymous alissa said...

I'm jumping on the theft bandwagon. Great post Kris!

Anonymous sandra said...

Love this post. I'm going to steal your idea and do the same thing on mine. I will give you the credit though:-)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOVE IT. I need to do this too. Frighteningly, more than one would have me living in a cardboard box.

Anonymous 1933 said...

Like everyone else, I loved this. I hope you got as much from writing it as well as seem to have from reading it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow-- this is amazing. Beautifully done. I, too, am stealing it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first must-read post of the year. A brilliant and gorgeously haunting snapshot at who you were at different points in your life. Four stars.

Blogger Sizzle said...

you kick all kind's of ass kris. i'd be frightened to do a similar post!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto. Really well-done. I often have these same thoughts half-formulated somwhere in the swirling chemical depths of my mind (right there back between my love for chicken tikka masala and the memories of Buck Rogers in the 25 century). Great idea to write them out so well, and you paint such vivid images with your words!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great idea for a post....well done!!! Now I gotta go make the rounds of everyone else's blogs who borrowed the idea!!

Anonymous Spazz said...

God, this is brilliant. Also, this is scary. Inevitably when one reads this, one applies it their own life. In my case, I'd weigh 400 pounds and have little to no self-esteem. Still, the sex would be good. Hmmmm...

Anonymous girlanddog said...

Loved this post...Got me thinking where I'd be, and got me thankful for where I am!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for an excellent post that leaves me in awe of your powers of introspection. I would love to steal your idea, but... 1. I don't have the guts and 2. I'd likely be very unhappy with what I see with that kind of light shone upon myself.

Bravo.

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Blogger Vince said...

Nice post! I'm tempted to write one myself, but it would be way too long. And all the scenarios would be awful.

Anonymous KB said...

I loved this. That's all ;)

Anonymous Anna said...

I love this; it reminds me of that Alanis Morissette song "Unsent." Only better.

I'm stealing it, too. :)

Anonymous Alexa said...

Absolutely awesome. Good work :)!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have been J. Yeah, definitely.

This was very, very good. It's why I keep coming back to read you.

Blogger anno said...

If my husband didn't read my blog, I'd be stealing this, too. Wow.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was great. I so enjoyed reading it. And it really made me think.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To think what I would write in a post like this scares the shit out of me. Thanks for sharing, it made me laugh and I needed that.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the invitation to post my version in your comments -- this is so long, I hope you don't regret it. You were right, though, it does feel gooood.

--anno

MC, if we had married, we’d be living in London now. We’d have an apartment in town and an estate somewhere off in the country, ski vacations at Christmas and winter holidays in Aix-en-Provence, a summer place in Finland. Two boys, both graduating soon from prep school, two dogs, and lots of live-in household help. We’d ride horses, attend soccer matches, and I’m pretty sure we’d be on a first name basis with David Beckham and Madonna, who, incidentally, was born in the same city and in the same year as I was. I would work out at the gym every day, have regularly scheduled salon appointments, and show up dutifully at your dinner parties with other investment executives wearing daring low-backed gowns and high heels, having discovered that a little bulimia compensated for all kinds of indulgences. You would, naturally, be uneasy when I arrive, never knowing just how much scotch I’d had to drink before I left, and I would occasionally mortify you with my insistence on smoking Cuban cigars. At least when I was smoking, though, I would not be talking, espousing my unpopular politics or cynical views of private equity companies and the alleged value they create. Unlike the other wives, I would not be content with my own jewelry business or clothing line and would instead take up painting – badly – on very large canvasses, for which you would feel obliged to find me an agent or reputable dealer. You would be perplexed by my obvious discontent, but between your frequent international travels and your repulsion for divorce—especially any ensuing settlement of our mutual estate—and my own wretched stubborn refusal to leave, we would totter along in our uneasy alliance, aware that we were connected, but never sure exactly why. Every once in a while, though, while you were reading the financial papers, I would sit down at our grand piano and play a nocturne by Chopin, and then that Impromptu by Hanson that I played in the living room of our dormitory where we met, and you would set your papers aside and close your eyes, and in those moments, in that music, we would feel that maybe, just maybe, we had done all right.

G., if we had managed to stay married into our 20s – marrying at 19? what were we thinking? – maybe we would have lasted. Maybe we would have figured out that conflict is an important kind of engagement, not the end of the world. I would have grown to appreciate your sustaining warmth and quiet comfort. You would have encouraged my academic ambitions and supported me while I finished my doctorate in ethics. We could be living in a log home in Marin, furnished with braided rugs, a wood-burning stove, and a solar-powered water heater. No kids, to your eternal disappointment, my relief, but several cats. I teach at Berkeley, while you direct occasional programs at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. We sip a glass of red wine every night, and eat more lentils than I strictly enjoy. Sometimes when I meet my friends for breakfast, I order bacon, extra crisp, and feel a little guilty about it. I would often wonder why you didn’t want more from life; you would resent my infernal bossiness, my relentless suggestions casting aspersions on your basic satisfaction with life. Your younger sister continues to drive me crazy with her unreasonable demands for your time and money, and I constantly complain about your inability to stand up to your family. You still smoke menthol cigarettes. I still sneak chocolate. Every night we taste these betrayals on our kisses.

P., if we had married, I’d like to think you’d still be alive. I remember you coming by, just before I married B. That kiss. “Don’t do it,” you whispered, “this is a mistake.” You were right. If we had married, you would be the head of anesthesiology of some major hospital in Chicago. We live in a large brick house in Evanston with our three daughters and chocolate labrador retriever named Rufus. I volunteer as a docent at the Art Institute, serve on the board of the library. We play bridge every Saturday with a group of friends we have known since your medical school days, and I serve whole salmon poached in court bouillon, green salads with herbs, and homemade sourdough bread. There are always fresh raspberries and a bit of dark chocolate for dessert. I worry about your cholestrol. In the evenings, we play chess, or sit on a large sofa and read the paper. If the urgency of our attraction has faded, we still have strong affection for one another. Mostly, you are still alive, and I am glad for it.

Dear M., we’ve been married for 20 years now, so I have some idea of where this one goes: one beautiful child, a house in the country, one dog, two SUVs, and a John Deere tractor. I’m still impressed by your insistence on honesty, on understanding everything from first principles: you never borrow anything from anyone, there are no cliches in your life, no false steps, no false words. Because of you, I’ve seen the Milky Way at 3 a.m. from King’s Canyon in Yosemite, gone kayaking in Maine, lived through the dot.com boom in San Francisco, built our own home, been lost and illiterate in Tokyo. If you ever doubt that I love you, remember that I gave up a trip to Italy to accompany you to Tokyo instead. I love it that you garden, that you plant trees, that you like to make things grow. I love your writing, the music you make, the fact that you have always taken care of us. So bear all this in mind when I tell you that supporting your energy, your restlessness, your agitation and occasional downright irritation is getting a little difficult. I used to joke that on my deathbed, you’d be propping me up, demanding that I listen to your latest escapade, help you figure out the next step for your story, or resolve the latest crisis at work. It was a little less humorous last November when I actually did end up in the hospital, and you actually were upset that I couldn’t read your latest installment with the attention you felt it deserved, or that after I was released—with a raging migraine—I didn’t feel like going out for dinner with you right that evening, sharing a couple of bottles of champagne, or making love until the early hours of the morning. Have you noticed that I don’t tell you my dreams anymore, that I don’t share my frustrations? Where do you think I find my comfort?

Because of you, I write. But now I am finding my voice, and it has a lot more range to explore.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was really good. Got me thinking about my Exs haha.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, just WOW

Blogger missbhavens said...

Oh, Man, Kris.

You've outdone yourself.

I feel strangely compelled to steal this idea and run off with it, but why bother? I'm not as good a writer and it would sound like gobbledygook.

But you have me thinking (wistfully and bitterly all at once) of my exes.

Damn, you Kris.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post is a bit like Sliding Doors and since that's one of my favorite movies, this is now one of my favorite posts.

Blogger Bill said...

Geez ... I've been away a while and I come back to this? I wonder what a guy version of this kind of post would read like? Maybe it's best not to know.

It's definitely an idea worth stealing. I could provide a male version except I've been introspected to death the last few months and I think attempting something like this might send me into long term therapy.

"Dear C ... if we had married, I'd be broke now ..."

Blogger Maliavale said...

I love this post.

Blogger "said" Woman said...

great post. I've done this in my head so many times.

Blogger Momcani said...

You are fabulous! I'm just in awe.

Blogger Austin Girl said...

Amazing post. I got to the end, I am a former DC Girl...and for the last few years Del Ray Girl - Until the recent move to Austin, TX.

If you are ever in Evening Star have the amazing scallops and a bottle from Planet wine and remember, heaven is little places all over the country.

Anonymous Mama G said...

Don't know why or how, but I started reading this particular post from bottom to top, with K #1 being the last one I read.

Loved. Loved. Loved this post. I'm probably gonna copy - although mine most certainly won't be as creative as yours as I am not a writer. And being that I am about to steal a posting idea from you, I'm clearly not that clever either. Sigh

Blogger fiona said...

Oh. It is a lovely post. Thank you.

Anonymous jonathan said...

Such graceful writing- a simple premise maybe but one only a gifted practitioner could take to its conclusion so assuredly and movingly. The day-to-day minutae of the different imagined lives there are so well-chosen and evocative- even for an overseas reader like me, necessarily less familiar with the cultural references.

And I don't know Kris if you know, but this stellar post had you nominated for a new UK-based site 'postoftheweek.com' which is how I came across you... hopefully you will get a few new readers from 'across the pond' now...

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