As writer’s we’ve all dealt with “what ifs” in our manuscripts, including several blogs in Heartwarming. Lately, I’ve been thinking about “what ifs” in my life. What if I had gone in this direction instead of that? Maybe you’ve had the same thoughts.
When I was very young, I had two loves – writing and drawing. After reading Gone With the Wind, I started my own Civil War story and illustrated it with colorful pictures. My mother always encouraged my art work, but she had a tolerant expression when I read my stories. I served time on the school newspaper and yearbook but couldn’t imagine becoming a writer, certainly not with my typing skills. No one in my family thought I could make a living in either profession, but what if I’d been encouraged in my writing? Instead my teachers directed me to follow art at school. I entered contests and even had an article written about my art projects in the local newspaper.
I was accepted at Pratt in Brooklyn and Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. What if I had chosen Pratt instead of RISD? How different would my life have been? At the time I lived an equal distance from both colleges. A friend was also considering RISD and her father volunteered to take us both to see the place. Although she never attended, our trip gave me the opportunity to actually see the college. But what if my friend had been attending Pratt and taken me to see that college? Would Pratt be in and RISD out instead of the other way around?
My mother warned me not to plan on four years. My brother graduated from high school in two and his education was a priority. A man had to provide for his wife and family while a woman would be taken care of for the rest of her life once she married. (Let’s all have a big laugh.) That was the prevalent belief at the time so women didn’t need an advanced education. It definitely was my uncle’s opinion. I overheard him ask my father why he would allow me to go college. My father’s response – that’s what she wants to do. What if I hadn’t had my parents’ support.
|My father, mother, me and my brother. What was on his mind when this was taken?|
What if my brother had decided to go to college? Fortunately, it didn’t interest him. He chose instead to enter the Air Force.
Once I did my full four years and graduated with a degree in Textiles, my roommate and I took off for New York City. Instead of looking for work designing fabric, I took the first job I was offered as a lace designer. Partly it was panic. I needed employment and figured I’d look for something else once I was established. What if I had waited and looked for something more in my field?
Six months into living in Manhattan and I knew no one outside of my friends from school. I began searching for groups to join and joined two. One was a bicycle club that went on 30 mile trips. The other was a church choir. My first night at choir practice, I was asked to participate in the play the group was putting on – “Of Thee I Sing.” The bicycle club was planning their first trip and I had to choose. I chose music.
I’ve never regretted my choices. Art, college or participating in a musical (very far off Broadway). Singing with the church group provided friendships that have lasted to this day. But I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to bicycle on those long trips. “What if…”
Have you had "what ifs" in your life?