I’m a big fan of How I Met Your Mother and have watched most, if not every, episode they’ve made. In this week’s episode “Unpause” [Minor Spoiler Alert], Marshall and Lily (the long-standing couple on the show) get into a mega fight and in the fight, Marshall brings up the past to counter-argue Lily’s point that he is being more selfish than she ever has. He brought up that she broke up with him and moved to San Fran, and was wondering if she would have come back to him if things had “worked out” for her there. That decision was a critical point in both their lives, and because of her coming back, they eventually got back together, got married and now have a kid.
Decisions can be like a snowball, starting small and eventually building to something big, or they can be big to start with, sometimes not even realized until years later. Our lives literally hinge on various decisions over the years, that if made differently, would turn out to entirely in another direction. Big ones are things like whether or not to enroll in the army, or what school to go to, or what crowd to hang out with, or who to date, and of course the ultimate, who to marry. Unlike the decision to make small eating or exercise decisions each day that eventually lead to large changes, those major decisions start out large and the avalanche that is life follows in it’s wake. Often, once made, these big decisions can’t be unmade and even if they weren’t the right decision, will take years to untangle and start anew. Like the movie It’s a Wonderful Life or Mr. Destiny, where one decision changed spun a life in a new direction.
Like many of you, probably my largest decision that has impacted my life the most has to deal with my now-wife Holly. On that fateful spring day in 1999, our lives hinged on a decision, though we may not have realize it at the time. Holly and I had been seeing each other for maybe 6 or 7 months, and it was fun. As I mentioned before, when I met her, I wasn’t looking for true love or a serious relationship, but was a little lonely at the time, searching for something. I knew I was going to be graduating college in the spring, and I thought at that point the world was open to me. Wanting to get away from the Midwest, I applied for jobs in the pacific northwest and on the east coast, finally accepting one in New Jersey. Holly was graduating a few months after me, and I suppose I didn’t give a lot of thought about it.
I loved her, but like now, don’t feel there is “a one” that we’re meant to be with. As Silent Bob said though “There are a million fine looking women in this world dude, but they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of them just cheat on you.” Recognizing that she was a good one, I certainly would have preferred she come out to live with me, but knew I would have eventually been ok if she decided she decided to move her life in a different direction, but thought the decision should be hers alone. Holly didn’t feel the same way.
She basically put the ball entirely in my court about the direction of our relationship, and thus hinged our future life. She told me that while she wasn’t expecting an engagement ring or anything, before she moved out to be with me, I had to be willing to take the relationship from a senior year short-term deal to something that could seriously progress to something more [e.g. MARRIAGE]. Heavy stuff to consider as a 23 year old embarking on real life. I took some time to consider my world and my options, and it didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that my life was better off with her in it than without her.
So after graduation I moved out to Jersey, rolled into town on fumes and made arrangements to stay in a sublet in a college town that first summer until Holly came out to join me. It was a shit hole apartment with two college dudes who smoked weed. Our apartment got broken into in our sketchy neighborhood which was an eye-opener. I went out to the local bars and clubs with my new roommates and with coworkers, and probably increased the party lifestyle of drinking, doing drugs and late nights. While I recognize now, it wasn’t the right path, at the time it seemed what young adults did.
When Holly finally came out, we stayed in that apartment for a short while until we were able to find one of our own away from those guys. In the meantime, she didn’t really know anyone and was trying to get on her feet. My lifestyle finally came to a head one night, when some friends and I went out to da club not too far away. I don’t remember why Holly didn’t come too, but it was understood after going out I would come home. Well bar time comes, and instead of going out, I went with my friends to another friends’ house (another young adult party girls’ as it turned out), where we proceeded to drink more and partake in harder drugs (for me, the first and only time). Well my girlfriend tracked me down, refused to accept my excuses of why I wasn’t coming home for awhile (her spidey sense tingling), and essentially came over and took me out of that situation.
While I don’t really remember the aftermath, I believe she left me to my own devices to work through the consequences of that lifestyle and why that wasn’t going to be something she would be a part of. After that, we settled into an apartment together, and really started our life down the path it is currently on.
When I reflect back on some of those hinged life moments, I don’t know how my life would have turned out if I had made some other decisions, but having my wife in my life has been one I don’t regret for one moment. Maybe deciding to commit to the relationship early saved my life. Who knows. But regardless, without that one decision made, I wouldn’t have come back to the Midwest, wouldn’t have the job(s) I had, wouldn’t have my kids or home or situation, and maybe wouldn’t be here sharing this with you.
So right now, with many big decisions already made, I focus on making good daily decisions that positively snowball, since that’s all I can do.