Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if just one thing in your past had turned out differently?

Last night, we stopped at the Walmart where I worked as a cashier between my freshman and sophomore, and sophomore and junior years of college. It was about 8:30 and the store was fairly empty, so when Dad and Dano and I got up to the registers, most of them had short lines. He chose the shortest, and to my sudden flummoxation, who should be the cashier at that line but a guy I was truly, madly, deeply infatuated with my first summer there: my Jedi Knight.

I had never expected to see him again. That was nine years ago! No way would he still be working at that Walmart, right? By now, he should have a great job writing music for cartoons, or at least be in Walmart management. But there he was, still cashiering. And my brain said, "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!" and crashed for about three seconds. To avoid talking to him, I picked Dano up from the cart so Dad would have to do all the interacting with the Jedi Knight, since a) my brain still wasn't all systems go, b) he probably didn't remember me anyway, and c) I suddenly felt really guilty that I have this awesome life now and he's still working there.

And then I began to wonder. What if he and I had gotten together that summer? Would I have gotten my AA from Bethany and then gone somewhere in NC for my BA? Possibly to App State, where he was going part-time? What if we'd gotten married? Would we both be working at Walmart still, maybe on opposite shifts so our kids wouldn't have to go to daycare? Or would his life have turned out differently too?

Totally pointless speculation, I know. And it made me realize just how great my life is. Sure, I live in a tiny apartment in the middle of a city, but I have a wonderful husband with a cool job, a beautiful and talented baby, and a writing career that's not exactly stagnating. Yay me!

But I think I should hire my Jedi Knight to be my writing muse, because I got not one but two new story ideas from this encounter. And nine years ago, he inspired dozens of poems (some of them pretty good!) and a fanfic story that I'm still really fond of. Weird, huh?

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