Everybody always asks people when they get old: Do you have any regrets? What would you have done differently?
At 51, I'm not ancient, but I have been asking myself what I would have done differently.
Losing Ginny's love after I left for college in '83 has been perhaps my greatest loss. But what would I have done differently? I was a small-town intellectual hot-shot when I met her. By the spring of my Senior year in high school, I'd won all sorts of minor scholastic awards. Of COURSE I was going to leave Azle, Texas, and go off to college. Had Ginny loved me, she could have waited 9 months, 'til she herself graduated and could come to Austin, where I was in college.
The mistake of moving back to the Fort Worth area from Austin in '88 to be with very close friends while their mother was dying of cancer. I moved into the same 2-bedroom apartment with the two friends AND their dying mother. I had no idea of the situation. I, at 22, wasn't prepared to be living with a dying woman. (The 2 sisters didn't explain how bad it was or what the living situation would be.) The thing is, I could have handled living with a SOLEMN situation and readily adjusted myself to it. As it turned out, though, one sister took the mom off on a trek out west to seek alternative medicine; I stayed home in the apartment with the other sister, who constantly came up with new boyfriends. The mom then came home to die. I witnessed that. And I then witnessed the subsequent party atmosphere in the apartment after she was gone. I was shocked and disturbed. Profoundly so by the death atmosphere. Disgusted by the aftermath. (I was later shocked to learn that one of the sisters blamed me for the bad feelings around that time. I hadn't known about their mother's dying when I was invited to live there; I certainly didn't, post her death, want to be in a party atmosphere.)
Mollie, Julie, Sandra since then: I was desperate for a sense of belonging with someone. These three initially offered some sort of shallow verbal/mental connection. (Sexually, also, with Mollie.) What I regret about all of these women is that I kept relying on them emotionally YEARS after they themselves had left me emotionally. Such a waste of (what I now, at 51, understand is) valuable time.
As for picking up and moving to New York City in 2007: I do not regret that at all. I do, though, regret paying much attention to Sandra after she contacted me from Houston in October 2008. I was lonely in my new city; I was desperate for someone. I will always regret that while my cat Gracie was dying in April 2009, I was more concerned with when Sandra would be coming into NYC (to accompany her sugar-daddy, who was getting cancer treatments) and when we could supposedly see each other. Sandra herself wanted me to come to the hotel room that her ill lover was paying for. (Shades of the earlier sisters wanting me to come to Fort Worth when their mother was dying.) So wrong, but I wasn't yet mature enough to understand how wrong or how to avoid it all. I wish that I had paid more attention to my truly-loved dying cat of 9 years instead of wondering when the shallow Sandra would call me that week.
I regret paying any attention to Sandra whatsoever post Gracie's death in 2009. Come to think of it: I arrived in NYC in 2007 and never cried at all, despite the job-seeking and roommate turmoil, until I was in contact with Sandra in October 2008. From then until 2010, I was crying constantly.