As I reflect on my life, I can’t help but revisit the things I wish I hadn’t eaten, breathed in, practiced, and gave in to during those younger, formative years.
Unhealthful things I wish I’d known were bad for me:
• All those times I ate my grandmother’s concoction of eggs, onions, chicken fat, and chicken livers. Mmmmmm. Clogged arteries.
• All those years I breathed in my parents’ cigarette smoke. (But, realistically, where was I going to go at 8 or 9?)
• Every candy bar (full size—no “fun” size available then) I stuffed into my mouth between meals. I couldn’t hide this fact from my mother because, being a good little citizen, I refused to throw the wrappers on the ground and I stuffed them in my pockets.
Things that turned out okay but might not have:
• Jumping off the rocks at one of the northside beaches and landing on a sandbar. The water was deep all around the sandbar. It wasn’t until that point that I realized I couldn’t jump back up on the shore. Not being a swimmer, I humbly let some friends pull me back. Why did I take such a foolish risk? All the other kids were doing it...
• Letting my friend talk me into getting into a car with two guys—strangers—we met on the miniature golf course. Nothing bad happened, but it sure could have.
• Allowing my mother to persuade me to switch my college major from pre-journalism to elementary education. The practical "wisdom" of the day was that teaching was the ideal profession for a woman: "You'll have the same hours and work days as your kids!" I ended up getting married, getting pregnant (we did it in that order in those days), and dropping out of teacher's college. But when I was ready to go back to finish my degree, I chose English—not quite journalism, but certainly closer. Where would I have taken it if I'd continued on my first path? Who knows? But at least I'm doing a lot of writing (mostly at work).
These are just the ones I can recall—or care to write about. But don't let this wistfulness fool you. Everything's worked out so far (knock on wood), and I'm going to make damn sure that continues, for as long as I can.