As a rule, I try not to regret too many things.
It's not that I try to be perfect, or to make no mistakes. It's more that I don't let myself go too far down the road of thinking about what I would've done differently, long enough to start to feel real regret.
If I did, I think the majority of the years between 17 and 19 would be blacked out in inky, dark, regret for me.
In the moments when all of the cringe worthy shit I've done comes creeping up over the side of my bed to try and lay with me at night, I try my best to just stop there and think what's done is done, or it was the right thing to do at the time, or supposedly I'll laugh about that one day.
But there is an exception to every rule.
Of course I have things I wish I could take back. Mistakes or missed opportunities that no amount of positive thinking or repetition of trite slogans can wash away.
And ultimately all of those things come down to one mistake in common:
believing I had more time.
Believing that there would always be more time to fix a relationship, and not believing that even with the presence of love, there are lines that can be crossed that will forever be the definitive border between with, and without.
Believing that there would always be more time to get my shit together, to stop obsessing, stop worrying, stop harping on the little things. Stop putting so much weight on a fragile thing, just because I believed that there was still time.
Believing that there would always be time to say things and do things for people I loved. People I didn't know were not long for this world.
People who left, disappeared, passed away, too soon.
Believing that there would always be more time to savor each stage of the kids lives as they grew. That I wasn't really that close to the end of the baby years, the toddler years, the little itty bitty kid years, and so on.
My greatest regret will always be my faith in the future.
One day I was at breakfast with a friend, and there was a couple at the table across from us. Suddenly, and by accident, one of them spilled his glass of water all over the table, and it of course ran off the edge and got his partner wet. I watched, and thought "that sucks. I've done that sooo many times."
If you know me in real life you know that I - and my kids - are spillers.
Afterwards I sat there and watched in some kind of horror as the poor guy's partner chastised him mercilessly for spilling his water. Glaring, cussing, raising his voice. Telling him he was stupid, ordering him to sit at a different part of the table, and muttering that he did not want to know what would happen to him if he spilled his water again, so help me god.
Of course, this was way, way over the line for such a stupid accident. It really wasn't that big of a deal.
I sat there though, thinking only that this person had no idea what regret is, clearly.
This person thought they had more time.
They thought that they had an infinity with this person, and that over reacting about a little water ultimately wouldn't be a big deal, and maybe it wouldn't be, but I couldn't help but want to jump up and scream in their face "WHAT IF IT IS?! What if this person is so close to that line, that horrible, invisible line between loving you, and falling irreparably out of love with you, and this is how you're choosing to spend the time you have left with him! What if he fucking died tomorrow? STOP IT."
Granted, wanting to yell at strangers isn't normal, so I didn't.
But in the pissy little face of that total stranger who was effectively crying over spilled water, I saw all of the little, stupid, unimportant things that I had cried over, that I had saddled my relationships with, that I had regretted caring about when the other shoe dropped, and I heard the words
"I'm not in love with you anymore"
As much as I wanted to scream at this person I didn't even know, I wanted even more to look him in the eyes and say
"You have someone who right now, right this second, loves you and knows he wants to be with you. You have someone you can leave this restaurant hand in hand with. You have someone who misses you when you're gone. That might not last forever. Don't be so sure of the future. Don't have so much faith that love and life and happiness last forever. Don't do this. Don't be me."
But people who interject into the fights and business of strangers usually either end up in jail or the hospital, so instead I finished my coffee and left, hoping that someday I'd have the chance to try again.
And if I ever did, I wouldn't believe in the lie that is tomorrow, for anything.