Alternate Endings

In the past 24 hours New England has been redecorated for winter by a not atypical weather event. Having long ago given up most meteorology as part of the ratings-mongering machine, I set about to execute my day as scheduled, aware that safe travel home from evening parties was to be taken into consideration at every juncture.

In the end, I made it to the birthday dinner, but not the house party. And I was glad to be home by nine, able to watch the snow without wondering how I was going to get home in it. It is possible that in the balance sheet of my life, I have chosen caution more often than opportunity, but perhaps the blessing of biology and physics is that you cannot know with certainty, either the tremendous good time you missed or the bullet you dodged.

Still, in any accounting of how I’m doing with the decisions in my life (and there is quite a lot of this) I try to imagine the most plausible other outcomes and guess if I chose correctly.

Last Night A: I go to the party. I stay longer than I intend. Some element of Cambridge parking law results in towing of my car. Or It suffers from inadvertent snowplow damage. I stay the night with M+W and don’t worry about it until today when remediating the situation takes all of my available time (or can’t be achieved because the office I need to speak to is closed on Sunday). I am taken in and loved by my friends, given all I need to get to work on Monday, and get my car dealt with. Still, the week gets off to a (easily avoidable) stressful start.

Last Night B: I go to the party. I stay longer than I intend. My commute is shortened to 2 miles. I park in D+S’s drive way and stay the night at their house. Breakfast is insisted upon, and too delightful to pass up, and with all the great conversation somehow becomes lunch. I don’t get home until three with a fulfilled soul, a full belly, and a smoldering anger at myself because I know I don’t have enough time to re-center in my Allison-ness and get ready for work tomorrow.

This Morning A: I accept the invitation to dim sum. Coming off either of last night’s alternate endings, I have a good story to tell and I am aglow with the gratitude and delight of friends embracing me with kindness. I feel a certain pride in partying for closing on 20 hours straight. I am also a little overstuffed with wonderful things to eat and drink, tired, feeling the guilt of indulgence creep in, and the weight of Monday looming. Coming off of reality I still feel the guilt (I have consumed almost a quart of eggnog) and the weight. And venturing out is an intentional act of interruptus of the re-centering in Allison-ness already in progress. I get home at four or five or stay on with the team for dinner. It is all delightful, but I am twinging with concern over my preparedness for tomorrow.

It is the act of making a choice, and one’s honesty and acceptance of the outcomes, that I most admire in life. By that metric at least, I am in the black.


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