This was sent in anonymously.
I think about this type of stuff a lot.
As I’ve said often, I grew up in a rough neighborhood before my teens. What if my parents never moved? What if my dad didn’t get that better job and we stayed on the wrong side of the tracks. Would I be different? Would I sound different? Would I look different?
I was online recently, checking in with Breitbart, American Thinker, and various conservative websites, when for some reason it occurred to me to look up a former boyfriend. A former, relatively long-term, serious relationship boyfriend, who I had lost contact with decades ago. Way before politics mattered to either of us.
He was easier to locate online than I expected. But while scanning the google entries, I saw one where his name appeared with Barack Obama’s. What the heck is this? I thought, so I clicked the link.
It took me to a news article from many years back, about a speech then-President Obama was giving after some meetings in a distant state. My ex had some sort of leadership role in them, so Obama gave him a personalized shout-out during the speech, singling him out for recognition and thanks.
The article went on, quoting my ex’s post-shout-out gratitude and near-euphoria. I had a brief mental image of those old newsreels of Beatles groupies screaming and fainting. An exaggerated parallel, but still it came to mind.
I reread the article a couple of times, reflecting upon what might have been–and what that might have meant for my life.
How could someone have changed so much? Or had he changed? Were these just unrevealed parts of his personality and inner convictions, not seen then because of our youth? I looked at his photo, which was included in the article. If I had come across this article, without his name in it, would I even have recognized him? The person described in the article was a someone I didn’t know, even though there were a few facts that hadn’t changed. Everything else was baffling. We had been so close, but were now so very far apart.
I sat back and thought more about it. What would life have been like, if we hadn’t become separated through moves and differing choices of schools? What would I be like now if we had stayed together? Would I be a different person than I am? Would he be different than he is? Or would it have ended up in terminal disagreement?
Are our personal convictions–political or otherwise–fixed parts of us, or do they grow and develop partly because of the people with whom we decide to spend our lives?
The “roads not taken” can end up in very strange places.