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Running with Regret

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It’s days like yesterday that I run with a certain feeling of regret – the pseudo-holidays – the days where the kids are home from school but Jess has to go to work. I despise them.

***

I finished at the top of my class at what was probably THE top high school (public or private) in Florida at the time. I was number one; valedictorian. Because of that I got into and enrolled in a top-ten college.  The future was mine.

Over the next four years, much if it spent chasing girls and drinking beer, I proceeded to finish college near the bottom of my class. Out of nearly 1,100 graduates, I was probably somewhere around 1,000th. I left my school on the hill with no solid plan for my future.

***
I was chastising Katie yesterday morning. In retrospect, I wonder if I was chastising myself, my past – that kid that had so much potential but ended up letting it slip away.

***

Days like yesterday fill me with regret – regret that I didn’t study more; regret that I didn’t think ahead more; regret that I didn’t DO more.  If I had, what would I be today?  A doctor? A business owner?  A working filmmaker?  Whatever I would have become, I know I had the potential to be earning an income that might have some of the Occupy Wallstreet people using the hashtag #occupyLuau’shouse.

To be sure, income isn’t the end all be all.  Far from it.  But it buys one options.  It gives one, or more importantly, one’s family, opportunities.  If I had only taken a different path I could have given Jess the option, the opportunity of being home on days like yesterday.

And I would switch places with Jess in a heartbeat – not because I am tired of being a stay-at-home parent, but because I know how much she would like to be at home, spending time with the girls, even though in reality, with the kids in school, most of the days would be spent alone…cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, dropping off dry cleaning, returning purchases…

During the normal course of the week, I don’t think about it much, but these psuedo-holidays kill me.

Why didn’t I take a different path?

***

But here’s the rub – if I had, I may not have joined my fraternity, and not met certain brothers who would have made my move to New York City in ’96 possible, where I wouldn’t have had my apartment, where Jess would have never crashed a party I was throwing (a story for another day…).

No wasting the college experience, no Jess, no Katie and Brooke, no autism, no advocacy…no blue hair this coming Thursday and quite possibly no running and no Run Luau Run.

Except for the no autism part, that sounds like a pretty crappy deal to me.

And so I come back to why it is only a certain amount of regret I run with.  The choices I have made in my life have brought me to where I am.  I can’t help but feel I have disappointed many from the first 20 years of my life – it is always with me; expectations were high.  Until recently, I had not done much to make a dent in the world or make it a better place – and with that knowledge, regret followed me.

But I would argue that the last couple of years, though on a small-scale, I’ve managed to put a dent into the greater consciousness, helping bring autism awareness to places where it might not normally pop up.  Have I lived up to the promise of that 18-year old superstar? Not even a little.

But maybe, as I enter the second act of my life, maybe I’m just a late bloomer; maybe 42 is the new 22; maybe NOW (or this Thursday when my hair goes blue) is when I rise and finally throw off the yoke of regret and realize I am where I am supposed to be.

In the meantime, I think Supertramp had me in mind when they wrote this:

So you think you’re a Romeo
playing a part in a picture-show
Take the long way home
Take the long way home
Cuz you’re the joke of the neighborhood
Why should you care if you’re feeling good
Take the long way home
Take the long way home
But there are times that you feel you’re part of the scenery
all the greenery is comin’ down, boy
And then your wife seems to think you’re part of the
furniture
oh, it’s peculiar,
she used to be so nice.

When lonely days turn to lonely nights
you take a trip to the city lights
And take the long way home
Take the long way home
You never see what you want to see
Forever playing to the gallery
You take the long way home
Take the long way home
And when you’re up on the stage, it’s so unbelievable,
unforgettable, how they adore you,
But then your wife seems to think you’re losing your sanity,
oh, calamity,
is there no way out?

Does it feel that you life’s become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be,
for you to grow, boy.
When you look through the years and see what you could
have been
oh, what might have been,
if you’d had more time.

So, when the day comes to settle down,
Who’s to blame if you’re not around?
You took the long way home
You took the long way home………..

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